Cross-Validation of Generic Risk Assessment Tools for Animal Disease Incursion Based on a Case Study for African Swine Fever

Vos, Clazien J. de; Taylor, Rachel A.; Simons, Robin R.L.; Roberts, Helen; Hultén, Cecilia; Koeijer, Aline A. de; Lyytikäinen, Tapani; Napp, Sebastian; Boklund, Anette; Petie, Ronald; Sörén, Kaisa; Swanenburg, Manon; Comin, Arianna; Seppä-Lassila, Leena; Cabral, Maria; Snary, Emma L.


In recent years, several generic risk assessment (RA) tools have been developed that can be applied to assess the incursion risk of multiple infectious animal diseases allowing for a rapid response to a variety of newly emerging or re-emerging diseases. Although these tools were originally developed for different purposes, they can be used to answer similar or even identical risk questions. To explore the opportunities for cross-validation, seven generic RA tools were used to assess the incursion risk of African swine fever (ASF) to the Netherlands and Finland for the 2017 situation and for two hypothetical scenarios in which ASF cases were reported in wild boar and/or domestic pigs in Germany. The generic tools ranged from qualitative risk assessment tools to stochastic spatial risk models but were all parameterized using the same global databases for disease occurrence and trade in live animals and animal products. A comparison of absolute results was not possible, because output parameters represented different endpoints, varied from qualitative probability levels to quantitative numbers, and were expressed in different units. Therefore, relative risks across countries and scenarios were calculated for each tool, for the three pathways most in common (trade in live animals, trade in animal products, and wild boar movements) and compared. For the 2017 situation, all tools evaluated the risk to the Netherlands to be higher than Finland for the live animal trade pathway, the risk to Finland the same or higher as the Netherlands for the wild boar pathway, while the tools were inconclusive on the animal products pathway. All tools agreed that the hypothetical presence of ASF in Germany increased the risk to the Netherlands, but not to Finland. The ultimate aim of generic RA tools is to provide risk-based evidence to support risk managers in making informed decisions to mitigate the incursion risk of infectious animal diseases. The case study illustrated that conclusions on the ASF risk were similar across the generic RA tools, despite differences observed in calculated risks. Hence, it was concluded that the cross-validation contributed to the credibility of their results.