Brown C, Hungnes O, Schweiger B, Valette M, van der Werf S, et al.
Programme of the community network of reference laboratories for human Influenza to improve Influenza surveillance in Europe
All laboratories participating in the Community Network of Reference Laboratories for Human Influenza in Europe (CNRL) co-ordinated by the European Influenza Surveillance Scheme (EISS) should be able to perform a range of influenza diagnostics. This includes direct detection, culture, typing, subtyping and strain characterisation of influenza viruses, diagnostic serology and the creation of archives for clinical specimens and virus isolates. To improve the capacity and quality of the laboratories of the CNRL and to increase the consistency in performance among all 25 European Union countries plus Norway, Romania, and Switzerland, five task groups were set up in February 2005. These task groups developed work programmes in the areas of virus isolation, antibodies, molecular virology, quality control assessment and antiviral susceptibility testing. This report outlines the programmes and the results achieved in the first half-year of operation of the task groups. The action plans are challenging and it is expected that these efforts will lead to considerable improvements in the performance of the laboratories and in the standardisation of methods employed in Europe with regard to routine influenza surveillance and earlywarning for emerging viruses.