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Front. Public Health | doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2018.00046

Networking of public health microbiology laboratories bolsters Europe’s defences against infectious diseases

  • 1Office of the Chief Scientist, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Sweden
  • 2Office of the Chief Scientist, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Sweden

In an era of global health threats caused by epidemics of infectious diseases and rising multidrug resistance, microbiology laboratories provide essential scientific evidence for risk assessment, prevention and control. Microbiology has been at the core of European infectious disease surveillance networks for decades. Since 2017, these networks have been coordinated by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Activities delivered in these networks include harmonisation of laboratory diagnostic, antimicrobial susceptilibility and molecular typing methods, multicentre method validation, technical capacity mapping, training of laboratory staff and continuing quality assessment of laboratory testing. Cooperation among the European laboratory networks in the past seven years has proved successful in strengthening epidemic preparedness by enabling adaptive capabilities for rapid detection of emerging pathogens across Europe. In partnership with food safety authorities, international public health agencies and learned societies, ECDC-supported laboratory networks have also progressed harmonisation of routinely used antimicrobial susceptibility and molecular typing methods, thereby significantly advancing the quality, comparability and precision of microbiological information gathered by ECDC for surveillance for zoonotic diseases and multidrug resistant pathogens in Europe. ECDC continues to act as a catalyst for sustaining continuous practice improvements and strengthening wider access to laboratory capacity across the European Union. Key priorities include optimisation and broader use of rapid diagnostics, further integration of whole genome sequencing in surveillance and electronic linkage of laboratory and public health systems. This article highlights some of the network contributions to public health in Europe and the role that ECDC plays managing these networks.

Keywords: Public health laboratory networks, public health microbiology, External quality assessment, Molecular diagnostics, Antimicrobial susceptibility testing, Molecular Typing, whole genome sequencing, antimicrobial resistance, Epidemic preparedness, Communicable disease surveillance, Emerging diseases, Infection Control, technical harmonisation, Ebola virus disease, Middle East respiratory syndrome, avian influenza, Mycobacterium chimaera, Salmonella enterica, Salmonella enteritidis, Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae, one-health, eHealth

Received: 22 Sep 2017; Accepted: 07 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Margaret Ip, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Reviewed by:

Aleksandra Barac, Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Serbia
Sergey Eremin, World Health Organization, Switzerland  

Copyright: © 2018 Albiger, Revez, Leitmeyer and Struelens. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Marc J. Struelens, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Office of the Chief Scientist, Granitsvag 8, Stockholm, 17165, Sweden, marc.struelens@ecdc.europa.eu