Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, including those that are causing infectious diseases. It comprises several disciplines specialising in different types of microorganisms: viruses (virology), bacteria (bacteriology), fungi (mycology) and parasites (parasitology).

Public health microbiology is a cross-cutting area that spans the fields of human, animal, food, water, and environmental microbiology, with a focus on human health and disease. Public health microbiology laboratories play a central role in detection, monitoring, outbreak response, and providing scientific evidence to prevent and control infectious diseases.

It is of great importance to ensure sufficient microbiology capacity within the EU/EEA and to detect and characterise infectious agents in a timely and accurate manner in order to manage infectious threats. ECDC fosters the development of such capacity by encouraging cooperation between expert and reference laboratories. Technically, the ECDC’s Public Health Microbiology Programme encompasses all laboratory cooperation activities and microbiology projects of ECDC.

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Disease / public health area


Microbiology laboratories provide a first line of defence against health threats from communicable diseases and antimicrobial resistance. The ECDC provides scientific advice, capacity building activities and operational support to foster capable and responsive public health microbiology services for the European Union and beyond. ECDC’s vision is that by 2022 communicable disease and antimicrobial resistance threat detection, risk assessment, public health surveillance, and response in the EU/EEA will be underpinned by reliable and comparable microbiology data, shared and used in a timely manner.