HAVNet is a worldwide laboratory network of hepatitis A virus experts collaborating to perform supranational studies and sharing a joint repository. The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) coordinated the implementation of this datasharing network and maintains the database.
HAVNet is a continuation of the HAV working group, which was formed within the Foodborne viruses in Europe network (FBVE), a network of virologists and epidemiologists from different countries who share surveillance and research data on enteric virus infections. The FBVE network started in 1999 and was initially financed through three EU projects. Since the last EU project has finished in 2008, there is no financial support, while the number of participants has increased significantly.
Aims of HAVNET
Laboratory-based surveillance is one of the pillars of monitoring infectious disease trends. The aim of HAVNET is to increase the knowledge on Hepatitis A virus infections and map the worldwide distribution of Hepatitis A virus strains. As there is a strong geographical signal in the sequences, this can be used for source tracing, e.g. in hepatitis A cases possibly linked to imported foods.
Harmonization of sequencing protocols is an important step to improve the comparability of the shared sequences. To facilitate this, a detailed protocol for the detection and sequencing of hepatitis A virus is provided.
In case of a HAV outbreak, laboratories which do not have the possibility to sequence can contact HAVNET. One of the members might be available to sequence their samples.
The shared database is password protected and accessible via the Internet for data entry, sharing and analysis. Online analysis tools are available:
- Incidence plots
- Pie charts
- Phylogenetic tree tool
- Geographical plot
In order to ensure standardized typing of the sequences, all submitted sequences are typed using the publicly accessible HAV typing tool.
Contact and membership
If you are interested in joining the HAVNET laboratory network, or have any questions, please mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Membership allows you to access the molecular epidemiology database and analysis tools and involves the signing of a confidentiality agreement (pdf).