Through our science, ESR helps to prevent and reduce the spread of infectious disease, so everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand can live healthier lives


Public health
Hauora tūmatanui

About ESR's public health expertise

Infectious diseases are a leading cause of illness in Aotearoa New Zealand. They are particularly dangerous for babies, people with weakened immune systems and the elderly. When we stop or slow down the spread of infectious diseases, we reduce the risk of people becoming unwell and giving infections to others. This helps us protect our communities so we can all live longer, healthier lives.

It also means our hospitals and healthcare facilities are freed up to deal with other health-related issues. ESR scientists are at the forefront of protecting Aotearoa through detecting, reducing and preventing the spread of disease and researching infectious diseases.

Public health laboratories

Infectious diseases are caused by organisms including viruses and bacteria. They have different ways of spreading and can cause a range of health conditions.

Our microbiological public health reference laboratories are accredited as Medical Diagnostic Laboratories (ISO 15189) and Environmental Laboratories (ISO 17025). They operate as part of an international network to detect, identify and classify bacteria and viruses that cause disease.

As the preferred scientific provider for Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health), ESR provides scientific support to prevent, detect and investigate infectious disease outbreaks, biological threats and emerging threats to public and environmental health.

The ability to coordinate clinical and environmental testing allows us to track the sources of diseases infecting people by analysing animals, food and water in a One Health approach.

We also provide a commercial environmental surveillance service for selected significant organisms. 

Find out more about the work we do through the links below or by contacting us.


Health testing

ESR experts protect our communities by testing for the presence of bacteria and viruses that cause human disease. These organisms can be spread person-to-person, through contact with animals or within health care facilities.

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Legionella sampling and testing

Legionellosis, also called Legionnaires' disease, is a sometimes fatal lung disease caused by the bacteria Legionella, which live in soil and water sources throughout Aotearoa.

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Campylobacter typing

Campylobacteriosis is the most common cause of human bacterial gastroenteritis (food borne illness) in Aotearoa. It’s often the result of eating undercooked meat or something it came in contact with.

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Public health surveillance

ESR’s internationally renowned experts collect and analyse data and intelligence on a wide range of diseases in Aotearoa. 

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Pacific consultancy

ESR empowers the Pacific region with scientific expertise, information and tools to strengthen policy, programmes and practice to support healthy, safe and resilient communities.

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Environmental radioactivity

ESR offers a range of services for determining radioactivity content in a variety of samples such as food, water, soil, sediment, mining ore and products, biota and air samples.

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NZRM Culture Collection

ESR maintains a culture collection of medically important bacteria which can be used for research, teaching and quality control. The New Zealand Reference Culture Collection: Medical Section (NZRM) holds over 4,000 bacteria strains and reference cultures.

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Genomics and next generation sequencing

ESR is exploring DNA and how genes work to help us make smarter choices for our health and the health of our environment.

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Epidemiological skills development programme

ESR’s epidemiological skills development programme provides training and development of personnel to enhance New Zealand’s ability to investigate and respond to infectious disease events.

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Health intelligence and disease surveillance

ESR’s team of epidemiologists, public health doctors, clinical microbiologists and laboratory scientists provide the government and wider health sector with intelligence on infectious diseases and other serious health threats, such as influenza and antimicrobial resistance.

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EpiSurv and notifiable diseases

If a doctor believes a person has a notifiable disease (required to be reported due to their significant public health risk) they must inform a Medical Officer of Health. EpiSurv is the reporting system and data repository for these diseases.

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ESR Clinical Data Repository (CDR) Support

The CDR support team assists users in resolving issues, navigation and optimising the functionalities of systems, including REDCap, EpiSurv, Eclair, the Public Health AIDE and the STI pilot programme.

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