ECDC collects, analyses and disseminates surveillance data on 52 communicable diseases and related special health issues from all 28 European Union (EU) Member States and two of the three remaining European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Iceland and Norway). Data submission and subsequent validation is the responsibility of European networks of disease experts nominated by Member States and coordinated by ECDC through its disease programmes.
Strategy and objectives
Surveillance data collected at the European level are predominantly case-based and comprise demographic, clinical, epidemiological and laboratory information. They are reported annually (for most diseases and special health issues), monthly (for salmonella serotypes, measles and rubella), weekly (for influenza and West Nile fever) or daily (for travel-associated Legionnaires’ disease), as required for specific objectives, outputs and ensuing public health actions.
ECDC performs indicator-based surveillance; the systematic ongoing collection, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of highly structured information (‘indicators’) for public health action. Indicator-based surveillance is complemented by event-based surveillance, the detection, verification, analysis, assessment and further investigation of potential public health threats (‘events’). For more information on event-based surveillance, go to Epidemic Intelligence.
The ECDC long-term surveillance strategy (2014-2020)'s goal is for infectious disease surveillance in EU/EEA to provide relevant data for the effective prevention and control of infectious diseases while minimising the burden on the Member States. The vision is that by 2020, strong, harmonised and efficient European surveillance systems will serve the Member States, the European Commission and public health professionals.
General surveillance objectives are to:
- Monitor trends in communicable diseases over time and across Member States to assess the present situation, respond to rises above warning thresholds and facilitate appropriate evidence-based action;
- Detect and monitor any multinational communicable disease outbreaks with respect to source, time, population and place in order to provide a rationale for public health action;
- Contribute to the evaluation and monitoring of prevention and control programmes targeted at communicable disease surveillance in order to provide the evidence for recommendations to strengthen and improve these programmes at the national and European level;
- Identify population groups at risk and in need of targeted prevention measures;
- Contribute to the assessment of the burden of communicable diseases on the population using such data as disease prevalence, complications, hospitalisation and mortality;
- Generate hypotheses on (new) sources, modes of transmission and groups most at risk and identify needs for research and pilot projects.
Standardising EU surveillance
ECDC and the European disease networks ensure standardised reporting and data comparability across EU through use of common (externally quality-assured) diagnostic and typing methods, case definitions, metadata and reporting protocols. ECDC and the Member States also strive for routine data quality monitoring and evaluation of surveillance systems.
The technical platform for web-based data submission, data storage and dissemination is The European Surveillance System (TESSy): a password-protected, fully anonymised database hosted by ECDC. Further details on the treatment of personal data in the TESSy are available from the TESSy-specific privacy statement. For inquiries or technical support, please contact email@example.com
Restricted and public access to data
Nominated surveillance experts are the default users of case-based surveillance data, but data access may also be granted to third parties upon request. ECDC is not able to identify individual patient’s information. Any requests for such should be placed to the competent national authority.
ECDC uses indicator-based surveillance data to produce Annual Epidemiological Reports and publish weekly, monthly, annual or multi-annual disease-specific surveillance reports and peer-reviewed scientific articles. The Surveillance Atlas of Infectious Diseases and several other publicly accessible databases on healthcare-associated infections in acute care hospitals and antimicrobial consumption enable interactive exploration of EU/EEA surveillance data.