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We illustrate the potential for specialist laboratory networks to be used as preparedness and response tool through rapid collection and sharing of data. Here, the Emerging Viral Diseases-Expert Laboratory Network (EVD-LabNet) and a laboratory assessment of chikungunya virus (CHIKV) in returning European travellers related to an ongoing outbreak in Thailand was used for this purpose. EVD-LabNet rapidly collected data on laboratory requests, diagnosed CHIKV imported cases and sequences generated, and shared among its members and with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Data across the network showed an increase in CHIKV imported cases during 1 October 2018–30 April 2019 vs the same period in 2018 (172 vs 50), particularly an increase in cases known to be related to travel to Thailand (72 vs 1). Moreover, EVD-LabNet showed that strains were imported from Thailand that cluster with strains of the ECSA-IOL E1 A226 variant emerging in Pakistan in 2016 and involved in the 2017 outbreaks in Italy. CHIKV diagnostic requests increased by 23.6% between the two periods. The impact of using EVD-LabNet or similar networks as preparedness and response tool could be improved by standardisation of the collection, quality and mining of data in routine laboratory management systems.


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