Hazard Identification: General Overview

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QMRA is a scenario driven field. The first and an important step is determining the pathogen of interest (or in some cases multiple pathogens) for the scenario as the QMRA(Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment) is being developed. This is done as part of the description of the problem formulation and will include all stakeholder input. The selection of the hazards (pathogen of interest) must be chosen through a process which would include thinking about exposure pathways such as for recreational exposures, which might include a respiratory hazard as well as a gastrointestinal hazard. A particular infectious agent will include some of its adverse consequences. In addition to considering the specific hazard of interest, surrogates for some hazards may need to be addressed as well. Surrogates are necessary as there may not be an optimized dose response model available for the specific hazard for which you wish to develop a QMRA(Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment). One of the key outcomes for running a QMRA is identification of where the data are limited or can not be found. Thus our goal for the Wish List, is for the QMRA community to identify missing gaps and the need for new information. It may be necessary to perform laboratory experiments for the exposure assessment or further understand the nature of the hazard or how best to characterize the risk, and some pathogens do not lend themselves to laboratory use without significant financial or other investments.

Identification of a particular hazard encompasses a wide variety of general information about the hazard, which for the purposes of this wiki are often pathogens but may also be toxins. This may include:

  • Microbiological characteristics of the pathogen
    • Taxonomy
    • Life stages
    • Detection methods
    • et cetera
  • Epidemiological information
    • Mode of transmission
    • Timing of infection: latent period, incubation period, duration of communicability, duration of illness, etc.
    • Case fatality ratio
    • Asymptomatic carriage
    • Endemic vs. epidemic disease
    • et cetera
  • Clinical information
    • Diagnostic critera, such as laboratory tests for the pathogen and their interpretation
    • Signs and symptoms
    • Clinical outcomes
    • Effects on vulnerable persons (e.g., pregnant women, young children, or the elderly)
    • Nature of immunity (e.g., permanent vs. temporary)
    • et cetera