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Public Health and Vector-Borne Diseases – A New Concept for Risk Governance

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Summary

Public Health is defined as an interdisciplinary multilevel approach that deals with questions of preventing diseases at the population level. In this context, this paper focuses on vector-borne diseases as an important threat with an increasing impact on human and animal health. Emphasis is laid on an integrated health approach (‘One-Health’ initiative) as it recognizes the interrelated nature of both human and animal health. The importance of vector-borne diseases to new and emerging diseases in Europe was demonstrated, for example, by the recent outbreak of West Nile virus infections in Greece, Northern Italy and Hungary; the spread of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus across Turkey, south-western countries of the former USSR and the Balkans; the dramatic increase in hantavirus infections in Germany in 2012; and the dengue virus outbreak in Portugal in the same year. This paper provides a systematic approach for the analysis, assessment and governance of emerging health risks attributed to vector-borne diseases by using a holistic approach developed by the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC), called the ‘IRGC Risk Governance Framework’. It can be used by decision-makers and general Public Health authorities in order to evaluate the situation regarding any specific pathogen or Public Health risk and to decide if additional measures should be implemented.

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