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Bacterial Diseases Division



Reference Centers

Mol. Epidemiology

Streptococcus pneumoniae

























Head of service : Sophie Bertrand – T: +32(0)2 642.50.82 – Email:


The scientific service is responsible for diagnosis, disease surveillance and monitoring of bacterial susceptibility to antibiotics. It rallies laboratories recognized for their expertise both on Belgian and international level. Its role within the network of monitoring and reference laboratories includes the study of virulence mechanisms and mechanism of antibiotic resistance of the strains. The themes developed by the service are: gastrointestinal diseases and bacterial meningitis, bacterial respiratory diseases, Tuberculosis & Mycobacteria, Antibiotics & resistance to treatment.



Mission Statement

The Bacterial Diseases Division’s responsibilities include laboratory-based surveillance of five important bacterial diseases:

  • salmonellosis in humans – typhoid and paratyphoid fevers included-,
  • shigellosis –bacillary dysentery included-,
  • listeriosis,
  • meningococcal disease
  • Tuberculosis & Mycobacteria
  • Antibiotics & resistance to treatment

The laboratory-based surveillance is ensured by National Reference Centers which

  • collect the human isolates – food samples,
  • perform detection, isolation,
  • confirm the diagnosis, serotype and determine the antimicrobial resistance of the human isolates
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Strategic orientations of the NRC

  • Rapidly identify possible outbreaks, more virulent strains, …
  • Establish national baseline incidence data based on laboratory identifications and typing (sero and molecular)
  • Analyse all suspected samples in case of foodborne outbreaks or complaints and provide full characterisation of isolates
  • Execute a part of the official zoonosis monitoring program for Belgium to comply with EU regulations (92/117/EC, 2003/99/EC and EC/2160/2003)
  • Determine and follow antimicrobial resistance in human isolates and all Belgian food isolates
  • Client and accreditation oriented
  • Continuous improvement and state-of-the-art upgrades
  • Scientific research and concentration of expertise and national and international representation
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National Reference Center for:

Molecular Epidemiology: Horizontal task force

The molecular epidemiology has emerged in the bacterial diseases division from the integration of molecular biology into traditional epidemiologic research.

Typing methods contribute useful information tepidemiological surveillance of infectious diseases and designing ways in which curb them.

They are applied:

  • to characterise isolates (non typable by the classical methods)
  • to detect and investigate outbreaks
  • to monitoring of antimicrobial resistance genes and their transfer for the long-term trends
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Antibiotic Resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae 

Streptococcus pneumoniae causes a wide variety of infections both in the community and in hospitalized patients. It is not only the causative agent for upper respiratory tract infections but also for a number of important invasive infections such as septicaemia, pneumonia and meningitis. The worldwide reported increase of antibiotic resistance among S. pneumoniae together with the concomitant development of co-resistance between various unrelated classes of antimicrobials constitutes a problem of paramount importance.

In the unit of Antibiotic Research of the Section Bacterial Diseases, we follow the evolution of antibiotic resistance in non-invasive clinical isolates of S. pneumoniae. Furthermore, we study the mechanisms of resistance especially to fluoroquinolones and macrolides.





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