Doctors and laboratories in Belgium are obliged to report certain infectious diseases to the competent government agencies. There are minor differences in the list of notifiable diseases between different regions. Sciensano can provide support with this at the request of the competent agency.
What are Notifiable Infectious Diseases?
Doctors and laboratories are obliged to report certain infectious diseases to the appropriate government agencies, more specifically to:
- the Vlaams Agentschap Zorg en Gezondheid [Flemish Agency for Care and Health] for Flanders
- de Gemeenschappelijke Gemeenschapscommissie [the Common Community Commission] for Brussels
- the Agence pour une Vie de Qualité [Agency for a Life of Quality] for Wallonia
- the Hygieneinspektion van Ministerium der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft [Hygiene Inspection of the Ministry of the German-speaking Community] for the German-speaking Community.
This concerns serious infectious diseases, such as polio, outbreaks of antibiotic multi-resistant bacteria, as well as more ‘exotic’ diseases such as malaria and dengue.
There are also a large number of infectious diseases that are not notifiable, such as the common cold. The lists are checked regularly for their relevance and can then be adapted accordingly. In Belgium, there are minor differences in the list of notifiable diseases between the different regions.
Why must certain infectious diseases be reported?
The main purpose of this mandatory notification is to prevent the further spread of the disease concerned. When an infectious disease is reported, the source or cause of the infection can be traced. Using source research, the competent agency looks into where and through which route the patient contracted the disease. In addition, they look at who the patient has been in contact with and in what circumstances this contact took place to see whether there may be other infections. This is called contact tracing. To this end, they may contact the patient concerned and/or their treating physician.
Based on the information obtained from the source research and contact tracing, the competent agencies can take measures to prevent the further spread of the disease. These measures depend on the type of infectious disease and the way in which it could spread. Vaccinating contacts or prescribing medication are examples of possible measures.
At the request of the competent agency, Sciensano can provide support with:
- registering the notification of the infectious disease
- the source research and contact tracing
- analysing the data collected during these processes.
Sciensano can, partly on the basis of these analyses, also provide advice to the competent authorities to prevent or limit the further spread of the infectious disease.
In addition to monitoring patients and the spread of diseases, data on the occurrence of infectious diseases is also collected nationally and internationally to be able to map out and monitor the epidemiological situation of certain infectious diseases further. In Europe, this is done by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
How to report infectious diseases?
View the lists of notifiable diseases and how to report them for:
More information about the various diseases and the number of reported cases can be found separately for each disease via the Health Topics A-Z web page.