European Invasive Bacterial Disease Surveillance Network (EU-IBD)

The activities of this network are aimed at integrating surveillance of all invasive bacterial infections caused by N. meningitidis, H. influenzae and S. pneumoniae from an epidemiological and laboratory point of view in order to contribute to reducing the burden of diseases associated with invasive bacterial infections.

The activities include annual data collection, evaluation, dissemination of relevant scientific and technical data, promoting the harmonization and external quality assurance of laboratory methods and improve the laboratory capacity to accurately characterise the isolates of N. meningitidis, H. influenzae and S. pneumoniae.


From 1999 to 2007 the European Commission DG Sanco funded the European Invasive Bacterial Infections Surveillance network (EU-IBIS) which coordinated the surveillance activities in EU for invasive meningococcal and Haemophilus influenzae diseases and provided relevant epidemiological information to guide decision making process on vaccine policies.

In October 2007, the coordination of the network was transferred to ECDC and now is coordinated by the Vaccine Preventable Disease group (VPD). The epidemiological activities such as implementation of the new metadataset, data collection and analysis, is being carried out by ECDC through The European Surveillance System (TESSy).


The coordination of laboratory surveillance activities such as External Quality Assurance schemes (EQAs) and training have been outsourced. A consortium of European laboratory experts, mainly coming from national reference laboratories, has been set up to work together on these topics. 


Network members engage in surveillance activities, such as data collection, annual meeting, workshops and training, to promote information exchange and to strengthen its membership. Supplementary training videos and other materials are available to facilitate data submission, prior to data call.

The network is comprised of 28 EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom; and the EEA/EFTA countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein and  Norway.

Roles of ECDC and the European laboratory network to strengthen laboratory diagnostics for IBD surveillance

The IBD activities currently include the enhanced epidemiological surveillance activities and the laboratory activities from all European Union Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.


The coordination of laboratory activities was outsourced through an open call for tender to the University of Wurzburg, Germany.  In September 2008, the framework contract was signed with the university. The activities are conducted by a consortium of European Reference Laboratories for N. meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae, and S.pneumoniae with a broad experience in rendering the services specified in the framework contract.

Objectives of the IBD network

The general objectives for strengthening the surveillance of communicable diseases in the European Union are:

  • Surveillance at the European level shall add value to Member States by directly strengthening and supporting the national surveillance systems and by coordinating the standardization of EU-wide surveillance activities to ensure better availability of more comparable data between countries.
  • It shall strive to reduce the complexity of surveillance systems across Europe and enhance insight into communicable disease epidemiology in Europe. 

To be able to achieve these broad goals, the following objectives have been identified for strengthening surveillance in the EU:

  • Define surveillance outputs that will provide added-value by informing public health decisions and actions at the EU and/or Member State level; 
  • Collect and disseminate validated and comparable information on communicable diseases; 
  • Improve and update methodologies and quality assurance; 
  • Strengthen the laboratory surveillance in EU Member States; 
  • Consolidate outbreak detection and monitoring in EU Member States and at the EU level; 
  • Strengthen national capacities for surveillance and contributing to the evaluation of prevention and control programmes; 
  • Ensure patient confidentiality and legal foundation for data collection in individual Member States; 
  • Promote the wider use of surveillance data for a maximum of public health benefit, including research projects at a European level;

Objectives of the laboratory network 

  • To coordinate the European laboratory network on IBD which will be part of a broader EU surveillance system for both epidemiological and laboratory components that are built up and coordinated by ECDC.
  • To assess and improve laboratory performance for standardised and appropriate methods to be used for the laboratory diagnosis of invasive N. meningitidis and H. influenzae infections for ensuring accurate and comparative surveillance across Europe.
  • To uphold a high level of laboratory preparedness and strengthen the microbiological expertise across Europe for N. meningitidis and H. influenzae through laboratory training workshops.
  • To coordinate the molecular surveillance on N. meningitidis including evaluating new, rapid, automated molecular technologies, and maintain a high quality molecular surveillance across Europe, including assessment and improvement of laboratory performance of molecular typing.

Catchment area

Catchment area or the area under surveillance for IBD includes countries that are EU Member States and the three EEA States: Iceland Liechtenstein and Norway.

How does the network report?

During the first annual meeting on the Invasive Bacterial Infections Surveillance Network in March 2009, the network members expressed their wish to annually report to TESSy for both invasive bacterial diseases. There is a fix deadline for the data submission, allowing enough time for data validation and data resubmission.

Data will be submitted as case based data according to the format described in the latest metadata set. If case based data are not available, aggregated reporting is acceptable.

Annual meetings

According to its mandate, ECDC ensures the integrated operation of the network and will be focusing on how to further strengthen the integration of epidemiological and laboratory surveillance and how to develop further the network.

Objectives of these meetings are:

  • To present the epidemiological situation of invasive bacterial infections in Europe
  • To discuss and improve the existing disease specific surveillance objectives for invasive meningococcal disease and invasive H. influenzae disease
  • To discuss and revise the existing case definitions in accordance to the disease objectives
  • To discuss the countries experience with using TESSy: data variables: strengths, weaknesses and improvements
  • To discuss the possibility for further development of systematic reports, outputs format and reporting frequency
  • To set up a coordination group for IBD