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Network for the surveillance and control of communicable diseases

The prevention of communicable diseases is one of the European Union’s (EU) priorities which require Member States to act in a global and coordinated way. This Decision therefore establishes a network which, with the European Commission’s help, promotes cooperation and coordination between the Member States in order to improve the prevention and control of communicable diseases.

ACT

Decision No 2119/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 September 1998 setting up a network for the epidemiological surveillance and control of communicable diseases in the Community [see amending acts].

SUMMARY

The network for epidemiological surveillance and control concerns the following communicable diseases:

  • diseases preventable by vaccination;
  • sexually transmitted diseases;
  • viral hepatitis;
  • food-borne diseases;
  • water-borne diseases and diseases of environmental origin;
  • nosocomial infections;
  • other diseases transmitted by non-conventional agents;
  • communicable diseases which may lead to emergencies of international concern, as described in Annex 2 of the International Health Regulations;
  • vector-borne diseases;
  • zoonotic diseases;
  • other communicable diseases of public health importance, including deliberately released diseases.

Role of the network

This network * is to be used for:

  • the epidemiological surveillance * of communicable diseases. The epidemiological surveillance network is to be formed by bringing into permanent communication with one another the European Commission and those structures that, at the level of each Member State, are responsible for collecting information on epidemiological surveillance and coordinating control measures. These structures are to be designated by the Member States within six months of the entry into force of this Decision;
  • setting up an early warning and response system for the prevention and control of communicable diseases *, the network being formed by bringing into permanent communication with one another the Commission and the health authorities of each Member State responsible for determining measures that may be necessary for protecting public health.

The Commission will coordinate the network in cooperation with the Member States. It will be assisted by a committee composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by the representative of the Commission.

Measures to be taken

The European Commission determines certain elements which aim at ensuring the effective operation of the network with regard to epidemiological surveillance and to achieving uniform information. These include:

  • the communicable diseases that are to be covered by the Community network and the selection criteria for these diseases;
  • the case definitions, particularly the clinical and microbiological characteristics of the agent responsible;
  • the nature and type of the data and information to be collected and passed on by the national structures;
  • the epidemiological and microbiological surveillance methods;
  • the guidelines on the protective measures to be taken, particularly at external borders, and above all in emergency situations;
  • information guidelines and good practice guides;
  • the technical means and the procedures by which the data will be disseminated and analysed.

Information to be passed on by the national structures

Each national structure and/or authority must communicate to the network and to the Commission:

  • the information and control measures relating to communicable diseases covered by the Decision;
  • any useful information concerning the progression of an epidemic situation or epidemics that are unusual or of unknown origin in the Member State concerned;
  • any information for evaluation that will aid cooperation between Member States for the purpose of preventing and controlling communicable diseases.

Coordination of activities

Using the network, Members States must:

  • consult each other, in conjunction with the Commission, for the purpose of coordinating their activity to prevent and control communicable diseases;
  • notify the other Member States and the Commission in advance when considering the adoption of control measures for communicable diseases;
  • notify the other Member States and the Commission as soon as possible when urgent control measures need to be adopted to deal with emerging or resurgent communicable diseases.
Key terms of the Act
  • Network: the network for the epidemiological surveillance and control of communicable diseases, namely the system for the exchange of information required to carry out the surveillance, prevention and control of communicable diseases.
  • Epidemiological surveillance: the ongoing systematic collection, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of health data, including epidemiological studies, concerning the categories of communicable diseases set out in the Annex. Surveillance focuses in particular on the patterns of disease spread over time and space and analysis of the risk factors for contracting such diseases, for the purpose of enabling appropriate preventive measures and counter-measures to be taken.
  • Prevention and control of communicable diseases: the range of measures, including epidemiological investigations, taken by the competent public health authorities in the Member States to prevent and stop the spread of communicable diseases.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision No 2119/98/EC

3.1.1999

-

OJ L 268 of 3.10.1998

Amending Act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003

20.11.2003

-

OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003

Regulation (EC) No 596/2009

7.8.2009

-

OJ L 188 of 18.7.2009

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 1882/2003 have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference only.

RELATED ACTS

Commission Decision 2002/253/EC of 19 March 2002 laying down case definitions for reporting communicable diseases to the Community network under Decision No 2119/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council [Official Journal L 086 of 3.4.2002].

Commission Decision 2000/96/EC of 22 December 1999 on the communicable diseases to be progressively covered by the Community network under Decision No 2119/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council [Official Journal L 28 of 3.2.2000].
The Decision establishes a list of certain communicable diseases requiring epidemiological surveillance within the Community network. In particular it concerns:

  • diseases preventable by vaccination;
  • sexually transmitted diseases;
  • viral hepatitis;
  • food-borne and water-borne diseases and diseases of environmental origin;
  • other diseases such as serious imported diseases (plague, cholera, malaria, etc.).

The list also refers to other specific health problems: nosocomial infections and anti-microbial resistance.

Commission Decision 2000/57/EC of 22 December 1999 on the early warning and response system for the prevention and control of communicable diseases under Decision No 2119/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council [Official Journal L 21 of 26.1.2000].
The Decision sets out procedures for the exchange of information between Member States and the Commission through the network established and describes the operation of the early warning and response system. The following events must be reported:

  • outbreaks of communicable diseases extending to more than one Member State;
  • spatial or temporal clustering of cases of diseases of a similar type, if pathogenic agents are a possible cause and there is a risk of propagation within the Community;
  • similar clustering outside the Community, if there is a risk of propagation to the Community;
  • appearance or resurgence of a communicable disease or infectious agent which may require coordinated Community action.

There are three activation levels: information exchange, potential threat and definite threat.

Last updated: 07.03.2011

See also

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