A Quantitative Prioritisation of Human and Domestic Animal Pathogens in Europe


McIntyre KM, Setzkorn C, Hepworth PJ, Morand S, Morse AP, Baylis M


Disease or pathogen risk prioritisations aid understanding of infectious agent impact within surveillance or mitigation and biosecurity work, but take significant development. Previous work has shown the H-(Hirsch-)index as an alternative proxy. We present a weighted risk analysis describing infectious pathogen impact for human health (human pathogens) and well-being (domestic animal pathogens) using an objective, evidence-based, repeatable approach; the H-index. This study established the highest H-index European pathogens. Commonalities amongst pathogens not included in previous surveillance or risk analyses were examined. Differences between host types (humans/animals/zoonotic) in pathogen H-indices were explored as a One Health impact indicator. Finally, the acceptability of the H-index proxy for animal pathogen impact was examined by comparison with other measures. 57 pathogens appeared solely in the top 100 highest H-indices (1) human or (2) animal pathogens list, and 43 occurred in both. Of human pathogens, 66 were zoonotic and 67 were emerging, compared to 67 and 57 for animals. There were statistically significant differences between H-indices for host types (humans, animal, zoonotic), and there was limited evidence that H-indices are a reasonable proxy for animal pathogen impact. This work addresses measures outlined by the European Commission to strengthen climate change resilience and biosecurity for infectious diseases. The results include a quantitative evaluation of infectious pathogen impact, and suggest greater impacts of human-only compared to zoonotic pathogens or scientific under-representation of zoonoses. The outputs separate high and low impact pathogens, and should be combined with other risk assessment methods relying on expert opinion or qualitative data for priority setting, or could be used to prioritise diseases for which formal risk assessments are not possible because of data gaps.


PLoS One



Research Themes:

Vector Biology & Climate Modelling