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Wildtool, a flexible, first-line risk assessment system for wildlife-borne pathogens

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We describe the prototype of an electronic tool for risk assessment with dynamic ranking of wildlife-borne pathogens in function of their need for surveillance. Data about pathogens, their hosts and occurrences are obtained from literature and are classified as qualitative scores under six main criteria with their sub-criteria, corresponding to the elements of a standard risk assessment. Pathogen-specific data are reviewed by experts. The information is processed per pathogen through an algorithm and through summing up of the values obtained by converting four-tiered qualitative sub-criteria scores to weighted five-tiered numerical values. For a consistent comparison between pathogens, the “unknown” sub-criteria scores are assigned a median value of 3, allowing preservation of the sub-criteria concerned and their weights for the risk assessment, but minimizing the effect of this score on the outcome. Irregular data availability is further accommodated by a different data processing for comprehensiveness and refinement requirements, which is realised by a respective first- and second-level ranking of pathogens, the latter using additional quantitative and qualitative data for the release assessment. Continuous data updates are necessary to reflect the current situation in the field. Output flexibility is implemented by the possibility to run queries based on the choice of a region, a specific target group susceptible to the pathogens and a set of weights for the sub-criteria.

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This work was funded by the Belgian Federal Public Service of Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment (contract RT 07/5 WILDSURV). We acknowledge the contributions of the members of the WILDSURV steering committee and the many experts who kindly responded to our call for advice concerning pathogens and vectors. A special word of thanks is given to Marc Artois, Joke van der Giessen and Andrew Frost for their highly appreciated comments and support.

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Correspondence to Paul Tavernier.

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Communicated by C. Gortázar

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Appendix 1

Guidelines for scoring (PDF 27 kb)

Appendix 2

Scoring form (PDF 35 kb)

Appendix 3

Examples of weights assigned to the sub-criteria (PDF 32 kb)

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Tavernier, P., Dewulf, J., Roelandt, S. et al. Wildtool, a flexible, first-line risk assessment system for wildlife-borne pathogens. Eur J Wildl Res 57, 1065–1075 (2011).

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