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The Seventh International Meeting of the European Laboratory Working Group on Diphtheria (ELWGD) was held in Vienna, Austria in June 2002 and brought together the microbiologists and epidemiologists responsible for diphtheria in many countries throughout the world. The ELWGD was formed in 1993 in response to the epidemics of diphtheria in Russia and the Newly Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union (1,2). These epidemics, and others elsewhere, highlighted the importance of strengthening and maintaining both epidemiological surveillance and reliable laboratory screening. Since December 2001, these areas have been progressed and strengthened by European Commission (EC) funding to undertake a feasibility study for diphtheria surveillance amongst European Union (EU) member states and accession countries, and to establish a definitive and official European diphtheria surveillance network called DIPNET (EC DG SANCO Agreement No. S12.324473 (2001 CVG4-012)). This was the first international meeting of the ELWGD to be organised and funded under the auspice of the DIPNET (European Diphtheria Surveillance Network).


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