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Pathogens in Food and Livestock Research

Food from Thought will use big data analytics to study ecosystems at the smallest scale, the microcosm, to promote food safety, prevent zoonotic disease, and enhance livestock health. Using big data, Food from Thought will study pathogens and their relationships with their hosts, addressing concerns that intensive food production systems can lead to consumer safety and livestock health threats.

Approximately four million cases of foodborne illness occur in Canada every year with the potential to cause severe health impacts or, rarely, death. We need to better understand the ecology and virulence of foodborne pathogens and the causes of deadly outbreaks to better predict and manage outbreaks; additionally, we lack rapid and sensitive methods to detect and inactivate foodborne viruses. Food from Thought researchers will collect outbreak data from around the world to model foodborne illness outbreaks, predict the emergence of pathogens, and develop novel methods to detect and inactivate foodborne viruses and pathogens.

 

Food Science MSc. student Matthew Dallner observes cell cultures in the inverted microscope for research on Human Norovirus in laboratory level 2+, Canadian Research Institute in Food Safety

Avian influenza viruses present a major threat to the poultry industry, resulting in economic losses and trade impacts, but also represent a risk to human health, as all human pandemic influenza viruses in the last century have had an avian origin. Developing strategies to understand, predict and control the spread of avian influenza viruses is of primary importance. Food from Thought researchers will scan for the presence of avian influenza viruses in wildlife species in Canada, study and model the transmission of avian influenza viruses at the individual and population level, develop methods to detect and control virus transmission, and create a decision support system to prioritize avian influenza intervention strategies.

The most common clinical issue for Canadian swine nurseries is Streptococcus suis, which is commonly found on the tonsils of healthy animals but can sometimes become a systemic pathogen with the ability to cause severe clinical disease. It is currently unknown why this disease can become systemically present; novel ‘big data’ approaches offer an opportunity to better understand this production-limiting disease. Food from Thought researchers will collect information on the s. suis pathogen and identify factors that contribute to disease severity, including host characteristics and genomic information, farm management practices, and the tonsillar microbiome. This project will feed into a greater data library of current data resources related to production-limiting diseases across all livestock species.

Meet our pathogen food and livestock research experts

Explore our pathogen food and livestock research projects

A Modeling Framework To Predict Foodborne Outbreaks

Characterizing The Microbial Ecology And Functional Diversity Of Bacterial Communities From Imported, Ready-To-Eat (Rte) Foods And Plant Ecosystem To Control Foodborne Pathogens

Microscale Mission-Emerging Disease

Using Big Data To Reduce Production Limiting Diseases Of Animals: Streptococcus Suis In Nursery Swine