External quality assessment scheme 2011 for Neisseria meningitidis

Technical report External quality assessment

​Neisseria meningitidis is the major cause of meningitis and rapidly fatal sepsis in healthy individuals worldwide and in Europe, 3 814 (0.75 per 100 000) cases were reported to ECDC in 2011. Meningococcal surveillance systems are partially based on laboratory diagnoses and therefore there is a need for accuracy and proficiency in surveillance laboratory performance. External Quality Assessment (EQA) schemes enable laboratory performance to be assessed against reference methods and compared to other peer laboratories.
This latest report on EQA performance shows that European Reference Laboratories for Meningococci differ in their capacities and the level of characterisation of the distributed N. meningitidis material, but that there have been improvements since the first ECDC IBD-labnet distribution.
The results of the IBD-labnet EQA exercise prove that a regular EQA scheme for the reference laboratories is required in continue to improve the quality of epidemiological reports. It also concludes that targeted training and support might be requested to assist laboratories that have problems with organism characterisation. This is necessary if all EU countries are to provide accurate molecular typing data to TESSy in order to ensure representative European epidemiology of this important disease.