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Pneumococcal disease (Pnc) is responsible for invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) – mainly meningitis and septicaemia - and is an infection of public health importance in Europe. Following the licensure of an effective conjugate vaccine (PCV) in Europe, several European countries, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom, are introducing universal Pnc childhood immunisation programmes. As part of a European Union (EU) funded project on pneumococcal disease (Pnc-EURO), a questionnaire was distributed in late 2003 to each of the current 25 European Union member states as well as Norway and Switzerland to get a clearer picture of national surveillance for invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) in Europe. All respondents were contacted in 2006 and asked to provide an update to the questionnaire. Twenty two of the 27 countries targeted completed and returned the questionnaire. Four of the 22 responding countries have no reporting requirement for IPD. Eighteen countries reported a total of 27 national surveillance systems. Case definitions employed in these systems differed. Fourteen of the 18 countries reported collection of IPD strains to a single reference lab for serotyping and in 12 countries to a single laboratory for susceptibility testing. Thirteen countries undertook laboratory quality assurance. Information on age and sex were widely collected, but only 11/27 systems collected information on pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine status, while 5/27 systems collected information on pneumococcal conjugate vaccine status. The incidence of IPD reported in each of the 18 countries ranged from 0.4 to 20/100 000 in the general population, with a total of 23 470 IPD cases reported over a 12 month period. Surveillance for IPD in Europe is very heterogeneous. Several countries lack surveillance systems. Large differences in reported disease incidence may reflect both true differences, and also variations in patient and healthcare factors, including surveillance. If IPD surveillance in Europe can be strengthened, countries will be able to make informed decisions regarding the introduction of new pneumococcal vaccines and also to monitor and compare the impact and effectiveness of new programmes.


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