EPILABO | A sentinel network of laboratories for the epidemiological surveillance of infectious diseases
Since 1983, Sciensano has coordinated a network of microbiological laboratories, known as sentinel laboratories or ‘Epilabo’. This surveillance network is based on the laboratories’ voluntary cooperation in sending diagnostic data for different pathogens (around 40) to Sciensano once a week.
It contributes to improving public health by:
- detecting changes in infectious disease epidemiology and alerting when calculated threshold values are exceeded
- estimating the impact of infectious diseases through monitoring of epidemiological trends, describing the groups most affected and the geographical distribution of the selected infectious diseases
- monitoring the impact of prevention programmes
- making predictions concerning the spread and epidemiology of infectious diseases
- collecting data for communication to international health authorities (ECDC, WHO, etc.) in order to comply with international obligations.
How can I transfer the data?
Currently, you can transfer data via 2 ways:
- Electronic data transfer from LIMS extraction. Data from LIMS can be extracted and sent as an Excel file by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Upon registration, data can be transferred via a secured website (only accessible by the participating sentinel labs)
Can I participate in the network of sentinel laboratories?
Yes of course! Please contact the coordinator of the network: email@example.com
Problems during registration?
Should you experience problems with the online registration of your data, or if you have any other questions, do not hesitate to contact the coordinator of the network via firstname.lastname@example.org
Future data collection system
The sentinel surveillance network will make use of the Be-HERA architecture, which is designed in response to the need for one central data retrieval for exchanging personal data concerning public health. In accordance with the Be-HERA objectives, EPILABO will receive and use only a limited set of pseudonymised data to ameliorate the state of preparedness and monitoring the epidemiological trends for infectious diseases.
We are currently working on this new data collection system. An authorization from the Information security Committee was obtained on December 6, 2022 (available in Dutch and French). The implementation will be rolled-out in 2023 in collaboration with healthdata.be. This overview document describes for participating laboratories how the new data collection will be organized, with the objectives, a description of the variables to be collected and technical information on how the data can be transmitted via the HD4DP2.0 application.
Do you have further questions?
Would you like to receive more information about the sentinel surveillance network? Please contact us via email@example.com
Would you like to find out more about the activities and organisation of Sciensano’s service Epidemiology of infectious diseases? Please visit our service page.
Financial sources / funding institutions
These projects are funded by the Flemish region (Agentschap Zorg en Gezondheid), the Walloon region (l’Agence pour une Vie de Qualité – AViQ), the german speaking region (Ostbelgien), the Brussels-Capital region (the Common Community Commission), the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (INAMI-RIZIV), the Federal Public Service Health and the EU.