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The Netherlands Early Warning Committee (NEWC) aims to identify infectious diseases causing a potential threat to Dutch public health. Threats are assessed and published as (information) alerts for public health experts. To identify threats from abroad, the NEWC screens 10 sources reporting disease outbreaks each week. To identify the sources essential for complete and timely reporting, we retrospectively analysed 178 international alerts published between 31 January 2013 and 30 January 2014. In addition, we asked the four NEWC coordinators about the required time to scan the information sources. We documented the date and source in which the signal was detected. The ECDC Round Table (RT) Report and ProMED-mail were the most complete and timely sources, reporting 140 of 178 (79%) and 121 of 178 (68%) threats respectively. The combination of both sources reported 169 (95%) of all threats in a timely manner. Adding any of the other sources resulted in minor increases in the total threats found, but considerable additional time investment per additional threat. Only three potential relevant threats (2%) would have been missed by only using the ECDC RT Report and ProMed-mail. We concluded that using only the ECDC RT Report and ProMed-mail to identify threats from abroad maintains a sensitive Early Warning System.


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