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Seroepidemiology Programme

Pipetting reagent for flu tests

The Seroepidemiology Programme is a long-established collaboration between CfI (Colindale) Specialist Microbiology Services and Public Health England Manchester Labs. Its basis is a large collection of sera approximating the general population of England and Wales, forming a unique and valuable public health resource.

Sera used are residues of specimens submitted for diagnostic microbiological testing and are anonymised (retaining age, sex, date of collection and source laboratory only). Collection is continuing through collaboration with laboratories throughout England and Wales and has occurred annually since 1986, with over 150,000 sera now stored and catalogued. The collection is available to anyone wishing to use it for public health purposes.

The focus of the programme are cross-sectional antibody prevalence studies to help in the understanding of the epidemiology and burden of infectious diseases of public health importance, and how this may be changing. This provides key evidence to assist with making informed decisions regarding health policy where intervention is possible. There is also regular serological surveillance for measles, mumps, and rubella as part of the MMR Surveillance Programme.

The Seroepidemiology Programme often works in collaboration with the Modelling and Economics Unit and the European SeroEpidemiology Network (ESEN) project.

  • Contact details
    Contact details for the Seroepidemiology Programme.
    Added/updated: 31 May 2013
  • Contribution to public health policy
    Cross-sectional antibody prevalence studies carried out through the Seroepidemiology Programme have been particularly useful when formulating, evaluating, and monitoring health policy in a multidisciplinary environment involving epidemiology, microbiology, mathematical modelling and health economics.
    Added/updated: 31 May 2013
  • Measles, mumps and rubella
    Four methods are used in England and Wales to monitor the impact of the MMR vaccination programme, including: vaccine coverage data, clinical notifications, laboratory confirmations, and serological surveillance.
    Added/updated: 31 May 2013
  • Other diseases of public health importance
    The Seroepidemiology Programme helps assess changes in the epidemiology for infections of public health importance, that may assist formulation of future health policy.
    Added/updated: 31 May 2013
  • Cross-sectional antibody prevalence studies
    Cross-sectional prevalence studies involve collecting biological samples at a point in time to represent a population of interest, and subsequently screening them for a marker related to a disease. Serum is often the sample of choice with specific IgG the marker chosen, as the presence of this antibody indicates previous exposure or vaccination.
    Added/updated: 31 May 2013
  • Sample collection
    Sample collection has been ongoing on an annual basis since 1986, with all sera being provided by Agency laboratories and former public health laboratories.
    Added/updated: 31 May 2013
  • Seroepidemiology Programme References
    Publications related to the Seroepidemiology Programme.
    Added/updated: 31 May 2013
  • Seroepidemiology User Guide v5 (PDF, 192 KB)
    The basis of the Seroepidemiology Programme is a large collection of sera representative of the general population of England, forming a unique and valuable public health resource. The collection is now stored and maintained by the Seroepidemiology Unit at the Public Health Laboratory, Manchester. Sera are residues of specimens submitted for diagnostic testing.
    Added/updated: 31 May 2013
  • Revitalising the Seroepidemiology Programme (PDF, 1.6 MB)
    A4 poster summarising the joint approach by RMN and Centre for Infections to increase numbers of samples submitted to the SEU archive.
    Added/updated: 31 May 2013