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Training Manual on Wildlife Diseases and Surveillance
3. Risk analysis process
Health risk analysis is a rigorous application of common sense to determine whether or
not there are important health-related risks associated with a proposed activity, such as animal
translocation. Risk analysis can be qualitative, in which risk is estimated as being negligible, low,
medium or high, or it can be quantitative, in which mathematical models are used to give
numerical estimates of the probability of a negative outcome and the economic, ecological and
social harm that would occur as a result.
Wild animal health risk analysis usually will result in a qualitative assessment of risk.
This is because, most often, there is not enough reliable numerical information about wild
animals and their pathogens to support a reliable quantitative assessment of risk. Qualitative
risk assessments are extremely valuable and can contribute as much or more to decision making
and risk mitigation as can quantitative risk assessments.
The product of a risk analysis is a written report that documents all steps followed, all of
the information considered and the way that information was evaluated.
4. Basic steps in health risk analysis in wild animal translocations
a) Translocation plan
A complete, detailed description of the translocation is made. This clearly defines the
activity for which health risks are to be analysed.
b) Health hazard identification and selection for assessment
A complete, inclusive list of all potential health and related hazards is made. This step
requires gathering of much information. If sufficient information is not available, this must be
recognized and the risk analysis halted (see ‘Information Requirements’ below). From the
complete list of potential hazards, the hazards that appear most important are selected for
detailed consideration. Often, only a small number of hazards can be fully assessed. These must
be chosen with care to represent the greatest potential for a harmful outcome.
c) Risk assessment
Risk is assessed for each major hazard selected. Risk has two parts:
– The probability that the health hazard will occur.
– The magnitude of the negative consequences if it does occur.
d) Overall risk assessment and statement of uncertainty
An overall assessment is made by combining the results of the assessments of each of the
major hazards assessed individually. In every risk assessment, absence of certain information
limits the precision of the assessment. A statement outlining important areas of uncertainty that
have affected the risk assessment is written to give a complete picture of the strengths and
limitations of the risk assessment.
e) Associated hazards and risks
Hazards that may not be directly related to health issues often become apparent during
health risk analysis. A statement identifying these is written and included in the risk assessment.