Assessing the introduction risk of vector-borne animal diseases for the Netherlands using MINTRISK : A Model for INTegrated RISK assessment

Vos, Clazien J. de; Hennen, Wil H.G.J.; Roermund, Herman J.W. van; Dhollander, Sofie; Fischer, Egil A.J.; Koeijer, Aline A. de


To evaluate and compare the risk of emerging vector-borne diseases (VBDs), a Model for INTegrated RISK assessment, MINTRISK, was developed to assess the introduction risk of VBDs for new regions in an objective, transparent and repeatable manner. MINTRISK is a web-based calculation tool, that provides semi-quantitative risk scores that can be used for prioritization purposes. Input into MINTRISK is entered by answering questions regarding entry, transmission, establishment, spread, persistence and impact of a selected VBD. Answers can be chosen from qualitative answer categories with accompanying quantitative explanation to ensure consistent answering. The quantitative information is subsequently used as input for the model calculations to estimate the risk for each individual step in the model and for the summarizing output values (rate of introduction; epidemic size; overall risk). The risk assessor can indicate his uncertainty on each answer, and this is accounted for by Monte Carlo simulation. MINTRISK was used to assess the risk of four VBDs (African horse sickness, epizootic haemorrhagic disease, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile fever) for the Netherlands with the aim to prioritise these diseases for preparedness. Results indicated that the overall risk estimate was very high for all evaluated diseases but epizootic haemorrhagic disease. Uncertainty intervals were, however, wide limiting the options for ranking of the diseases. Risk profiles of the VBDs differed. Whereas all diseases were estimated to have a very high economic impact once introduced, the estimated introduction rates differed from low for Rift Valley fever and epizootic haemorrhagic disease to moderate for African horse sickness and very high for West Nile fever. Entry of infected mosquitoes on board of aircraft was deemed the most likely route of introduction for West Nile fever into the Netherlands, followed by entry of infected migratory birds.