Genomics is expanding our understanding of pathogen evolution, host-pathogen interactions, and antibiotic resistance. Genomics is transforming modern infectious disease surveillance, and the methods by which public health professionals work to protect against epidemics and pandemics of high profile diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV, and influenza.
Current methods of assessing infectious agents include antibody-based testing, real-time PCR, pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). These methods are typically useful only for a small and defined number of organisms, and data analysis can be subjective.
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) provides a universal, hypothesis-free method that can be used with viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Genomic analysis with NGS provides high resolution information to distinguish pathogen strains that differ by as little as one SNP, and can replace multiple tests.
Illumina NGS technology delivers rapid results and high data quality that infectious disease professionals are adopting as a modern tool to identify, track and respond to outbreaks.
Microbial whole-genome sequencing is the primary method for infectious disease surveillance.