BACKGROUND: Highly infectious diseases (HIDs) are defined as being transmissible from person to person, causing life-threatening illnesses and presenting a serious public health hazard. The sampling, handling and transport of specimens from patients with HIDs present specific bio-safety concerns.
FINDINGS: The European Network for HID project aimed to record, in a cross-sectional study, the infection control capabilities of referral centers for HIDs across Europe and assesses the level of achievement to previously published guidelines. In this paper, we report the current diagnostic capabilities and bio-safety measures applied to diagnostic procedures in these referral centers. Overall, 48 isolation facilities in 16 European countries were evaluated. Although 81% of these referral centers are located near a biosafety level 3 laboratory, 11% and 31% of them still performed their microbiological and routine diagnostic analyses, respectively, without bio-safety measures.
CONCLUSIONS: The discrepancies among the referral centers surveyed between the level of practices and the European Network of Infectious Diseases (EUNID) recommendations have multiple reasons of which the interest of the individuals in charge and the investment they put in preparedness to emerging outbreaks. Despite the fact that the less prepared centers can improve by just updating their practice and policies any support to help them to achieve an acceptable level of biosecurity is welcome.
REFERENCE: Thiberville SD, et. al. Diagnostic issues and capabilities in 48 isolation facilities in 16 European countries: data from EuroNHID surveys. BMC Res Notes. 2012 Sep 25;5(1):527.