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Streamlining Disease Risk Analysis for Wildlife Using the Shark Bay Bandicoot as a Model

Abstract

Disease risk analysis (DRA) is a process for identifying significant disease risks and proposing measures to mitigate those risks. Although numerous methodologies for DRA exist, the IUCN Disease Risk Analysis Manual Jakob-Hoff et al. (World Organisation for Animal Health, Paris, pp 160, 2014) remains the gold standard for wild animal translocations. In some cases, however, constraints of time or resources demand compromises on the ideal methodology, and a cost–benefit assessment is required to determine the best approach. We propose a methodology modified from Jakob-Hoff et al. (World Organisation for Animal Health, Paris, pp 160, 2014) and Sainsbury and Vaughan-Higgins (Conserv Biol 26:442–452, 2012), using translocations of the Shark Bay bandicoot (SBB) (Perameles bougainville) as an example. In this study, 44 hazards were identified and described for Peramelidae species. We used hazard prioritization and “scoping” to develop a shortlist of hazards for detailed risk assessment, which excluded 35 of these hazards from further assessment. This approach enabled timely, efficient and cost-effective completion of the DRA while maintaining transparent evaluation of all disease risks. We developed a disease risk management strategy for SBB based on structured, evidence-based analysis of current information and established biosecurity practices and disease screening recommendations for future translocations. Our approach demonstrates a practical process for DRA and risk mitigation, which delivered management outcomes despite limited resources, variable knowledge of disease epidemiology and uncertain translocation pathways for the target species. Limitations are acknowledged, and further research will aim to objectively test this methodology compared to other available methods.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Wildlife Health Australia for facilitating provision of data from the national Wildlife Health Information System (eWHIS). Wildlife health data were provided by the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Perth Zoo, the University of Melbourne, Territory Wildlife Park and The Ark Animal Hospital. The authors would also like to thank The Australian Registry of Wildlife Health for facilitating provision of data from their pathology database.

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Correspondence to Rebecca J. Vaughan-Higgins.

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Vaughan-Higgins, R.J., Vitali, S.D., Sims, C. et al. Streamlining Disease Risk Analysis for Wildlife Using the Shark Bay Bandicoot as a Model. EcoHealth 18, 13–30 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-021-01521-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-021-01521-3

Keywords

  • Disease risk analysis
  • Risk assessment
  • Conservation
  • Translocation
  • Marsupial