E. coli forecaster sees food safety & forensic uses in technique

Escherichia coli bacteria

The harmful bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli)

Disease forecaster Ascel Bio is the first to produce live forecasts of today’s risks of infection from the harmful bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli).

Ascel Bio’s senior forecasting officer Patrick Wedlock says: “Our approach with the live E. coli NowCast is to fill a simple gap for everyone by answering a basic question: “Are outside climate conditions today in a particular zip code good, bad or moderate for the promotion of E.coli growth?  Although the model has some limitations, our modeling helps fill gaps in disease surveillance data.”

The E. coli NowCast is the second type of E.coli forecast that has been published.  Ascel Bio began forecasting Shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC) outbreaks in the US and internationally in 2012.  Coupled with the forecast of STEC, E. coli NowCast readers can better avoid E. coli infections.

Food poisoning is already a high frequency biological risk.  The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans will be sickened by the food they eat over the course of a year.   E.coli is also becoming a high potential severity biological risk.  The threat of antibiotic resistant E. coli is increasing.  The next 60 days are peak E. coli and foodborne transmission season in the USA.

Ascel Bio’s chief technology officer Saul Reed says: “The current daily E.coli Risk NowCast is now widely and freely available as a public good.  Paying subscribers have access to forward forecasts and our forensic database of climate conditions and hospitalization rates.

“Food safety is a complex challenge.  There are clear parallels for food safety today with the world of air safety 30 years ago, before the Delta Air Lines Flight 191 disaster.  Our forecast data will help government agencies, companies and individuals to each take steps that prevent E. coli, just as flight safety in rough weather has been improved.”

Hundreds of health conditions have well-established links to the environment.  Ascel Bio provides disease forecasts, outbreak alerts and other insights to users concerned with these conditions, bridging gaps between climate knowledge and healthcare.  Ascel Bio’s Zika NowCasts are another example of its work to create opportunities for action and improved global health. -USNewswire

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