EHEC O104:H4 outbreak 2011 in Europe: a new tool to support the outbreak investigations on governmental side
Traceability of food supply on the basis of disease clusters (= places with known exposures + indisposition by people, e.g. hotels, restaurants, etc.) combined with epidemiological analysis is the method of choice in outbreak situations, particularly when the bacteriological proof of the agent in the incriminated food is lacking. The critical point is to collect and organize data about the supply chains. The method developed here is based on Excel templates for data suppliers (e.g. companies, state agencies, local veterinary offices). To compensate the disadvantages of Excel-based data exchange (manual data entry is very time consuming and error-prone), a new database infrastructure was developed, providing automatic support for data correction. In the EHEC outbreak in 2011, the newly developed system has proved to be very effective. It is applicable to all types of food, easy to handle in outbreak investigationsand also allows for a combined forward- and backward-tracing. For significant improvement of the tracing process, the development of a data management system is required, that allows for rapid deployment of electronic data delivery, while ensuring the confidentiality of the data.