Published on New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center (

Public Health Investigations

This Bacteriology Laboratory participates in the investigation of foodborne and waterborne bacterial disease outbreaks as well as investigations of healthcare-associated and community-associated bacterial disease affecting the public in New York. This investigative work often includes molecular bacterial identification directly on clinical specimens as well as techniques optimized for the recovery of bacteria from environmental and food samples. Highlighted outbreak investigations include:

2020 Multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis[1] infections linked to peaches packed or supplied by Prima Wawona or Wawona Packing Company. This outbreak included a total of 1010 cases from 17 states, including 14 from NY, resulting in 28 hospitalizations with illnesses started on dates ranging from June 29, 2020, to August 27, 2020.
2019 Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Cavi Brand Whole, Fresh Papayas[2] - A total of 81 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Uganda were reported from nine states, including 29 from New York. Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicated that Cavi brand whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico were the likely source of this outbreak.
2018 Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Romaine Lettuce[3] - The outbreak strain infected 210 people from 36 states. A total of 96 people were hospitalized, including 27 people who developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. Five deaths were reported, including one from New York. Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicated that romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region was the likely source of this outbreak.

2018 Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Mbandaka Infections Linked to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks Cereal[4] - CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigated a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Mbandaka infections. There were 135 people infected with the outbreak strain reported from 36 states, including 16 from NY; 34 people were hospitalized. Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated that Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal was the likely source of this multistate outbreak. On June 14, 2018, the Kellogg Company recalled Honey Smacks cereal.

2018 Carbapenemase-Producing Pseudomonas aeruginosa (CRPA) among persons receiving outpatient urology care identified were identified by WGS. Thirty cases of CRPA containing the blaVIM resistance gene were detected from patients residing in a geographically concentrated area of NY prompting further investigation. WGS provided additional analysis to link many patients to the same urology clinic, later determined to have infection control concerns.

2018 Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumanii (CRAB) transmission through lung transplantation[5]. NY, CT and MA worked together with CDC to link an organ recipient and donor through comprehensive testing methods including WGS facilitating treatment and reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistant bacteria. 

2017 Anaplasma-positive patient linked to blood transfusion. The Bacteria Laboratory received segments from 12 units of blood that had been transfused to a patient who become extremely ill and ultimately died. The hospital’s hematology lab detected morulae on the wright-giemsa stained blood slide from the patient and sent this specimen for testing. Specimens from the patient tested positive for Anaplasma phagocytophilum by real-time PCR as did one of the 12 segments of transfused blood received, thus confirming the source of the infection.

2017 Nontuberculous Mycobacteria Assessment of Infections in U.S. Medical Tourists Associated with Plastic Surgery in the Dominican Republic by WGS[6]. Testing resulted in a travel advisory and temporary facility closure.

2016 Multi-state outbreak of Burkholderia cepacia[7]- This outbreak led to the testing of bloodstream infections associated with contaminated, pre-filled saline flush syringes. Our laboratory isolated the outbreak strain from 78 patients and two saline flush products.

2015 Legionella outbreak in South Bronx[8]- This outbreak led to the testing of samples from over 320 cooling towers.

2014 Multi-state Salmonella in chia seed powder[9]- Our lab isolated the outbreak strain from unopened samples.

2013 Multi-state E. coli O121 in frozen snack foods-[10] Our lab determined the outbreak strain in patients and mini-quesadillas leading to large scale recall of products.

2011 Salmonella Ground Turkey-[11] Recall (36 million pounds).

2010 E. coli O145 Bagged Romaine Lettuce-[12] Our lab isolated the outbreak strain from lettuce (150 pounds of lettuce received).

2007 E. coli O157:H7 Ground Beef Products-[13] Our lab confirmed beef as the source - Recall (21.7 million pounds).