24 Jan 2013

The need for ethical reflection on the use of molecular microbial characterisation in outbreak management (Euro Surveill., abstract, edited)

[Source: Eurosurveillance, full text: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

Eurosurveillance, Volume 18, Issue 4, 24 January 2013

Perspectives

The need for ethical reflection on the use of molecular microbial characterisation in outbreak management

B Rump ()1, C Cornelis2, F Woonink1, M Verweij2,3

  1. Municipal Health Service (GGD) Midden-Nederland, Zeist, the Netherlands
  2. Department of Philosophy, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  3. Ethics Institute, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Citation style for this article: Rump B, Cornelis C, Woonink F, Verweij M. The need for ethical reflection on the use of molecular microbial characterisation in outbreak management. Euro Surveill. 2013;18(4):pii=20384. Available online: http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=20384
Date of submission: 20 June 2012


Current thinking on the development of molecular microbial characterisation techniques in public health focuses mainly on operational issues that need to be resolved before incorporation into daily practice can take place. Notwithstanding the importance of these operational challenges, it is also essential to formulate conditions under which such microbial characterisation methods can be used from an ethical perspective. The potential ability of molecular techniques to show relational patterns between individuals with more certainty brings a new sense of urgency to already difficult ethical issues associated with privacy, consent and a moral obligation to avoid spreading a disease. It is therefore important that professionals reflect on the ethical implications of using these techniques in outbreak management, in order to be able to formulate the conditions under which they may be applied in public health practice.

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