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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major contributor to lower respiratory tract infections worldwide and several vaccine candidates are currently in development. Following vaccine introduction, reliable RSV surveillance should enable monitoring of vaccination impact. Data on the RSV disease burden in the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) are sparse.


The aim of this study was to gather knowledge on current practices of national RSV surveillance in the EU/EEA.


National Coordinators and National Focal Points for Influenza (epidemiologists and virologists) from the EU/EEA countries (n = 31) were invited to participate in an online survey in August and September 2017. The questionnaire covered questions on epidemiological and laboratory aspects of RSV surveillance.


All EU/EEA countries except Liechtenstein replied to the survey. Eighteen countries reported to have a sentinel surveillance system, 26 countries a non-sentinel surveillance system and three countries to have neither. RSV data collection was mostly done within the context of influenza surveillance. A wide range of diagnostic and characterisation assays was used for the detection of RSV.


The majority of EU/EEA countries have some surveillance for RSV in place. The prevailing integration of RSV surveillance into the existing influenza sentinel surveillance system may lead to under-reporting of RSV. The documented variations in existing RSV surveillance systems and their outputs indicate that there is scope for developing guidelines on establishing comparable methods and outcomes for RSV surveillance across the EU/EEA, to ensure the availability of a consistent evidence base for assessing future vaccination programmes.


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