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HAVNET

HAVNET is a global network of scientists working in hepatitis A reference laboratories. The network shares molecular and epidemiological data on hepatitis A.

About HAVNET

Laboratory-based surveillance is one of the pillars of monitoring infectious disease trends. The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) coordinated the implementation of this datasharing network.

Aim

The aim of HAVNET is to increase the knowledge on Hepatitis A virus infections and map the worldwide distribution of Hepatitis A virus strains. This is done by sharing sequence data, associated with epidemiological information from different regions of the world.  By providing the Hepatitis A virus database as an essential tool for source tracing in outbreak investigations and surveillance activities, we strengthen public health interventions.

goals

  • improve the representativeness of the database
  • improve the comparability of the shared sequences
  • provide  an expertise platform on Hepatitis A virus from molecular to epidemiological perspectives
  • provide a resource network for advanced investigation of source tracing of food-borne outbreaks
  • assess to the most likely origin and routes of Hepatitis A virus 
  • include a full length genome sequencing that will allow a more robust comparison among strains (future goal)

We improve the representativeness of the database by increasing the number of Hepatitis A virus sequences as well as their molecular and geographical diversity. The sequences are provided and shared by different countries. The comparability of the shared sequences will be improved by the use of harmonized protocols for detection and sequencing of Hepatitis A virus. This harmonization (e.g selection of genotyping region) is a major step towards developing standards and comparable data among laboratories.

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Activities

The activities of HAVNET are to

  • maintain a shared database (members)
  • monitor and recognize changes in circulating strains
  • identify occasional infections linked to consumption of contaminated imported foods,
  • share standardized typing protocols (pdf)
  • communicate unusual findings via an E-mail network

The shared database is accessible via the Internet for data entry, sharing and analysis. Monitoring and recognition of circulating strains, as well as identification of occational infections, are particularly required when food has been dispersed over a wide geographic region. This is reached by timely sharing information on Hepatitis A infections and molecular typing strains.

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Data collection

Each member of the Network is able to access to the database and deposit and share sequences linked with epidemiological data. Sequences are deposited preferentially with the agreed HAVNET target region VP1/2A or, if possible, a full genome.

Data submitted to the database will become publicly accessible 6 months after their date of submission. The use of the database is on a “give-and-take-basis”; participants agree to submit data as well as extract data for comparative analysis. All the information shared will be regarded as confidential; after the data has become public, the data cannot be published without consent of the submitting laboraratory. A reference to this hepatitis A network should be included.

In case of a public health threat (e.g international food-borne outbreak), data will be shared at request with organizations involved in control activities (ECDC, WHO, EFSA), again after consultation of data submitters. More detailed information is available in the confidentiality agreement (pdf)

Laboratory participants of HAVNET perform their own genotyping of Hepatitis A virus strains. However, if some laboratories do not have the possibility to sequence, they can contact HAVNET. One of the members might be available to sequence them.

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History

The hepatitis A network is a continuation of the HAV working group, which was formed within the Foodborne viruses in Europe network (FBVE). FBVE is a network of virologists and epidemiologists from different countries who share surveillance and research data on enteric virus infections. The network exists since 1999. Initially this work was financed through three EU projects, but since the last EU project has finished in 2008, there is no financial support.

Some of the activities of the FBVE are devided among participants. The RIVM started to improve the existing databases using new software and separated databases were set up. For example Noronet (a global network for norovirus datasharing) and a Dutch laboratory network sharing enterovirus and parechovirus sequences. The hepatitis A database was implemented in 2010. 

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Membership

If you are interested in joining the HAV laboratory network, please contact us. Membership allows you to access the molecular epidemiology database, the genotyping protocol and involves the signing of a confidentiality agreement (pdf)

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Contact us

For any inquiries on the HAV Network, this website, or how to participate, please  contact us.

Contact persons: Annelies Kroneman, Harry Vennema, Linda Verhoef, Marion Koopmans
Department of Virology, Centre for Infectious Disease Control
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, RIVM

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