In Switzerland, foodborne infections such as listeriosis, salmonellosis or campylobacteriosis are notifiable diseases and are under close surveillance by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). Annually, one to three outbreaks of one of these diseases have been observed in Switzerland. The FOPH has mandated Swiss TPH to lead the Competence Centre for Epidemiological Outbreak Investigations (KEA), which has been initiated with the aim to support the FOPH in the development of technical expertise related to epidemiological outbreak investigations and optimize the investigation preparedness. Depending on the number of cases, the severity of the illness and the duration of the outbreak, the FOPH activates the KEA to initiate comprehensive epidemiological investigations. To protect the health of the population, the objectives of the KEA are (a) to identify the source of infection and associated risk behaviour as quickly as possible and (b) to inform authorities to initiate measures preventing the further spread of the disease.
In October 2020, the FOPH renewed the mandate to manage and operate the KEA at the Swiss TPH. Swiss TPH can draw upon its experiences during the previous phases of the KEA between 2012-2017 and 2017-2020. In case of an outbreak investigation a team of in-house and external experts will be mobilized to allow for a timely and effective investigation. In addition to the creation and maintenance of structures and framework conditions necessary for food-related outbreak investigations, the KEA team at Swiss TPH is delivering the following products and services: 1. Publish a KEA Newsletter twice a year, and present up-to date knowledge on outbreak preparedness to the FOPH team; 2. Evaluation of digital tools and their suitability for outbreak investigations in the Swiss context; 3. Continuation of the routine investigation of listeriosis cases; 4. A regular technical exchange between KEA and FOPH.