2014 Volume 2 Issue 4 Pages 151-159
In this study, we developed a semi-quantitative risk mapping tool to assess the risk of damage to human health resulting from infection by meat-borne parasites. The developed method is based on the R-Map methodology, which is widely used in industrial settings to assess hazards in Japan. The risk of damage to health due to parasite infection was determined by two main criteria: the annual number of patients and the extent of damage to health. The former criterion was subdivided into four categories and the latter was evaluated based on severity of illness and period required to obtain a cure (hereafter, period to cure). The four categories for extent of damage to health were calculated by multiplying the scores assigned for severity of illness by the period to cure. Each parasite could then be mapped to this 4 × 4 matrix depending on the annual number of patients and the extent of damage to health. Three risk-level zones were then superimposed on the matrix to determine the priority of implementing risk management measures. In this way, the risk to human health associated with each parasite and the priority associated with implementing control measures could be visualized. Toxoplasma gondii infection in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients and newborn babies was mapped to the unacceptable risk zone due to the severity of the disease in these patients. Emerging parasites, such as Sarcocystis fayeri, Kudoa septempunctata and Taenia asiatica, were mapped to the zone in which the risk of parasitic infections should be reduced by implementing urgent control measures, since doing so would prevent any further increase in infections. The risk assessment tool developed in this study can be employed to evaluate previous and potential risks of parasite infection and is useful for assessing the efficacy of risk control measures.