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Currently the surveillance of infectious disease in the European Union (EU) is supported by the Basic Surveillance Network (BSN) and other disease specific surveillance networks (DSNs). Each network has its own website. The objective of the current study was to describe the information presented with public access on each website from the perspective of its usefulness for the surveillance of an EU member state. The BSN and the DSNs cited in Decision 2003/542/CE were included. Each website was reviewed and assessed on the inclusion of characteristics from three broad categories: 1) general information, 2) procedures for data collection and 3) data presentation. Ten surveillance network websites were reviewed during the week of 5 December 2005. At least 80% of the 10 networks included a list of participating countries, the contact addresses for the coordinator of the network and the participating country gatekeepers and the network’s objectives. Only one network specified the source and coverage of the data of each country on its website, and seven presented the disease case definition. Raw data were shown on eight websites and only two networks included presentation of elaborated data for the whole of the EU. Four networks included no reports on their websites. The periodicity of presentation for both raw data and elaborated data varied greatly between networks. The publicly available information on the 10 network websites studied was not homogeneous. We recommend that all networks present a basic set of characteristics on their websites, including case definitions, procedures used for data collection and periodic reports covering elaborated data for the entire EU.


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