Many hospital and other laboratories send their patient materials to RIVM's Centre for Infectious Diseases Research, Diagnostics and Screening (IDS) for testing, particularly if special diagnostic procedures are required for which these laboratories lack the necessary testing facilities. Patient materials are also sent to IDS in order to monitor the incidence of specific pathogenic micro-organisms. In some cases the pathogens themselves are sent to IDS for characterization. The results obtained enable RIVM to keep track of where and how frequently specific micro-organisms occur, enabling RIVM to respond rapidly to any (sudden) developments relating to infectious diseases.
IDS summarizes the results of these activities in an Annual Report to provide stakeholders with insight into infectious diseases research, diagnostics and screening. The topics covered in the Annual Report for 2015 include IDS's contribution to Ebola diagnostics in Sierra Leone. Seven staff members travelled to the West African nation to provide laboratory diagnostic assistance. In addition, IDS has taken initial steps to expand its heel prick screening programme to include Severe Combined Immune Deficiency syndrome (SCID). The report also explains why the Dutch flu vaccination programme was insufficiently effective in 2015. A part of the circulating influenza viruses in the human population was found to deviate from the viruses that were included in the flu vaccine.
Research at IDS is mainly focused on developing, optimizing and implementing innovative laboratory tests that can help to improve public health. Much of its research uses Whole Genome Sequencing, an innovative laboratory process that determines the complete DNA sequence of a micro-organism's genome.