News & Events
QUANDHIP - Quality Assurance Exercises and Networking on the Detection of Highly Infectious Pathogens – Network of Infectious Bacteria (NIB): Meeting in Oslo in May 2013
18 July 2013
The Laboratory experts meeting was organised to prepare the second external quality assurance exercise (EQAEs) a training programme to increase the laboratories' capacities to diagnose highly pathogenic bacteria and to strengthen the collaboration between the EU experts working on the analyses of bacteria samples, such as those studying antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST group), with mass spectroscopy (MALDI-TOF group), and the testing of rapid hand-held test kits focusing on lateral flow assays (HHTK group).
This Joint Action (JA) comprises two international networks focusing on highly infectious pathogens and currently links 37 highly specialised laboratories from 22 European countries. The JA provides a supportive European infrastructure and strategy for external quality assurance exercises (EQAE, bacterial antibiotic susceptibility testing, training and the biosafety and biosecurity review of current practices).
Four External Quality Assurance Exercises (EQAE), two bacterial and two viral, using living and inactivated samples from relevant pathogens, have been performed so far. For specific questions and methods working groups were set up for analyses of bacteria dealing with antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST group), with mass spectroscopy (MALDI-TOF group) and the testing of rapid hand-held test kits focusing on lateral flow assays (HHTK group).
The AST activities were linked with EUCAST (European Committee on Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing). All EQAEs were performed to a very high quality level. However, continuous exercises are necessary to maintain and further improve this technical status.
Repositories of reference material for BSL3 and BSL4 pathogens have been extended and used for the EQAEs as well as being made available to partners for the evaluation of diagnostic tools (WP5 Repository). Moreover, quantitative standards are under development in the NIB which will be held available for the future.
Practical training in partners´ laboratories on special laboratory methods and approaches have been performed according to agreed training offers. Obviously, this training contributed to a visible improvement of the diagnostic capabilities of several laboratories and created a network for mutual expert support.
Check lists on laboratory biosafety and biosecurity for both BSL3 and BSL4 laboratories have been further developed and will be evaluated according to guidelines and recommendations derived from documents produced by EC, WHO, CDC, CEN workshops and national authorities.
A Working Group was established to develop proposals for support in the coordination of laboratory activities in the case of an outbreak response. An agreement with the ECDC supported project ENIVD was achieved to cooperate and complement activities in outbreak situations. The principal operational readiness of the network has been shown in various cross border outbreak events.
The further consolidation of existing networks will ensure European laboratory preparedness to manage natural and deliberate outbreaks of high consequence pathogens. This structure will provide the necessary early response capabilities to support public health control measures, clinical patient management, epidemiological and forensic investigations and to give out relevant information.
To know more about QUANDHIP activities, please consult the website.