Infectious diseases in 2017

In keeping with tradition, this year’s first issue of EPI-NEWS describes important events relating to infections and vaccines from the year that has recently ended.

In 2017, the coverage of the childhood vaccination programme rose to a historically high level, allowing the WHO to declare that measles had been eliminated in Denmark. The increasing coverage was, in part, owed to the reminders that the SSI sends to parents informing them of the lacking vaccination of their children, and also to improved registration of vaccinations in the Danish Vaccination Register. Furthermore, the lively public debate on ethical issues associated with not having your children vaccinated may also have played a part.

In November 2017, the 9-valent HPV vaccine was introduced into the childhood vaccination programme. This vaccine has a broader coverage than the one previously used. Preliminary figures show that the new vaccine has been in great demand, which is a sign of renewed trust in the HPV vaccination programme. Thus, more than twice as many people started vaccination in the final months of the year as in the same period in 2016.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the world's greatest health threats because we risk losing the effect of our antibiotics, which would leave us unable to treat even trivial infections. Fortunately, there is a trend towards a decreasing consumption of antimicrobials in Denmark in both primary healthcare and in the hospital sector. Nevertheless, some types of resistance are displaying worrying increases. New objectives for the reduction of consumption of antimicrobials towards 2020 were established, and a novel project aiming to improve the monitoring of resistance was launched. A new guideline to prevent further spreading of carbapenemase-producing organisms (CPO) at hospitals is also in the pipeline.

Several food-borne disease outbreaks were resolved by use of novel diagnostic methods as well as routinely performed epidemiological studies, and several cross-border outbreaks were observed. Outbreaks of exotic diseases were also recorded in Europe, e.g., Chikungunya and malaria.

Finally, the future framework for Statens Serum Institut was established by a government decision stipulating that a strong national-level infectious disease preparedness programme will be maintained at the SSI. Additionally, the University of Copenhagen (UC) and the SSI will be handling the implementation of the veterinary preparedness programme on behalf of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration as from January 2020. The new agreement boosts the “One Health” perspective of the Danish infectious disease preparedness programme by introducing joint monitoring of human and animal infections.