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Assessing the risk of Nipah virus establishment in Australian flying-foxes

  • S. E. ROCHE (a1), S. COSTARD (a1), J. MEERS (a2), H. E. FIELD (a3) and A. C. BREED (a2) (a4)...

Summary

Nipah virus (NiV) is a recently emerged zoonotic virus that causes severe disease in humans. The reservoir hosts for NiV, bats of the genus Pteropus (known as flying-foxes) are found across the Asia-Pacific including Australia. While NiV has not been detected in Australia, evidence for NiV infection has been found in flying-foxes in some of Australia's closest neighbours. A qualitative risk assessment was undertaken to assess the risk of NiV establishing in Australian flying-foxes through flying-fox movements from nearby regions. Events surrounding the emergence of new diseases are typically uncertain and in this study an expert opinion workshop was used to address gaps in knowledge. Given the difficulties in combining expert opinion, five different combination methods were analysed to assess their influence on the risk outcome. Under the baseline scenario where the median was used to combine opinions, the risk was estimated to be very low. However, this risk increased when the mean and linear opinion pooling combination methods were used. This assessment highlights the effects that different methods for combining expert opinion have on final risk estimates and the caution needed when interpreting these outcomes given the high degree of uncertainty in expert opinion. This work has provided a flexible model framework for assessing the risk of NiV establishment in Australian flying-foxes through bat movements which can be updated when new data become available.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

* Author for correspondence: Dr A. C. Breed, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Woodham Lane, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB, UK. (Email: Andrew.breed@ahvla.gsi.gov.uk)

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Keywords

Assessing the risk of Nipah virus establishment in Australian flying-foxes

  • S. E. ROCHE (a1), S. COSTARD (a1), J. MEERS (a2), H. E. FIELD (a3) and A. C. BREED (a2) (a4)...

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