Several Sciensano units are involved in identifying potential sources of infection, diagnosing and characterising cases of yersiniosis, and detecting and investigating epidemics.
Analysis of food samples
The National Reference Laboratory for Foodborne intoxications and infections (NRL-FBI), within Sciensano’s Foodborne pathogens service, analyses the food samples sent by the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) for the presence of the relevant Yersinia strain in the foodstuffs.
Analysis of human samples
The National Reference Centre (NRC) for Yersinia, within Sciensano’s Bacterial diseases service, receives human samples from all medical laboratories in Belgium. Thus, around 750 laboratory-confirmed Yersinia cases are reported annually.
The main mission of the NRC is to provide microbiological and epidemiological surveillance of human infections with Yersinia. The aim of this surveillance is to detect epidemics as quickly as possible, as well as their origin and, in the long term, to map spatial and temporal trends in the evolution of these bacteria.
If an epidemic is suspected, the NRC alerts Sciensano’s Epidemiology of infectious diseases service and considers whether further investigation is needed. If this is the case, the relevant regional authorities are contacted, where the medical health inspectors can launch an investigation into the source among the patients. Sciensano can provide support for this epidemiological research.
Sciensano also studies the susceptibility of bacteria to antibiotics and helps formulate recommendations on the use of antibiotics.
These various activities of Sciensano thus contribute to the detection, investigation and control of food-related epidemics, the implementation of preventive measures and the evaluation of the measures taken for the benefit of public health and for the protection of consumers.