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The early warning committee was established in order to recognise threats to public health caused by infectious diseases in the Netherlands in a timely and complete fashion. This article describes the outcome of a retrospective and descriptive evaluation into the completeness of the recognitions made by the early warning committee. Information about outbreaks of infectious disease in the Netherlands in 2002 and 2003, as reported in the Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde (Dutch Journal of Medicine), and about infectious disease events in other countries, was compared with reports of the regular weekly meetings of the Dutch early warning committee. If an outbreak or a foreign event was not mentioned in the meetings of the early warning committee, the cause for this was established. For events in other countries, it was established on the basis of whether or not the event could have been a threat to public health in the Netherlands. All outbreaks of infectious disease in the Netherlands, published or mentioned in the Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde were discussed by the early warning committee. Three of the events occurring in other countries in 2002 had not been discussed by the committee although, based on the criteria for a potential threat to the Netherlands, they should have been: the outbreak of avian influenza A/H5N1 in domestic fowl in Hong Kong, the increase among hospitalised patients of carriers of extended-spectrum â-lactamase producing micro-organisms in Scotland, and outbreaks of measles in several countries. In 2003, all events in other countries that could have posed a threat to the Netherlands were discussed by the early warning committee. In 2002 and 2003, the early warning committee recognised nearly all threats due to infectious diseases and outbreaks of infectious diseases which were of national importance and published in various sources of literature.


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