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Rev Sci Tech. 2010 Dec;29(3):513-22.

Methodology of the biological risk classification of animal pathogens in Belgium.

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  • 1Division of Biosafety and Biotechnology, Institute of Public Health, 14 J. Wytsmanstraat, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium.


Since many micro-organisms are a biological hazard, they have been categorised into risk groups by many countries and organisations and classification lists have been developed. Current classification systems rely on criteria defined by the World Health Organization, which cover the severity of the disease the micro-organism might cause, its ability to spread and the availability of prophylaxis or efficient treatment. Animal pathogens are classified according to the definitions of the World Organisation for Animal Health, which also consider economic aspects of disease. In Europe, classification is often directly linked to containment measures. The Belgian classification system, however, only considers the inherent characteristics of the micro-organism, not its use, making the risk classification independent of containment measures. A common classification list for human and animal pathogens has been developed in Belgium using as comprehensive an approach as possible. The evolution of scientific knowledge will demand regular updating of classification lists. This paper describes the Belgian risk classification system and the methodology that was used for its peer-reviewed revision (with a focus on animal pathogens).

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