Netherlands, Utrecht

Risk Assessment of Infectious Agents

when 5 January 2015 - 9 January 2015
duration 1 week
credits 1.5 ECTS
fee EUR 1000

The objectives of this course are to understand the modelling principles of microbial risk assessment and to be able to implement the risk assessment process in practice. The focus will be on a bottom-up approach, where measurements in food chains and in the environment are used to assess the risk at exposure, but also attention will be paid to the top-down approaches of observational epidemiology and source attribution.


Foods and the environment (water, air, soil) can be contaminated by infectious agents (e.g. micro-organisms, viruses, antimicrobial resistance genes, allergens and endotoxins). These may be introduced in food chains and in the environment at different locations and the population sizes and properties of these agents may change throughout transmission chains. Depending on exposure patterns, humans can be infected by the agents upon contact (e.g. ingestion, inhalation). A bottom-up (etiological) approach, in which knowledge about the prevalence and numbers of an infectious agent in a source is combined with knowledge about the transmission routes via food or the environment from that source to humans, may be used to calculate the risk for humans to become infected. Alternatively, observational epidemiological information may be used to assess risk factors in a top-down (syndrome-based) approach, typically making use of statistical regression. Also, models exist using elements from both approaches, e.g. for source attribution. These approaches have different starting points, use different types of data and serve a different purpose. In this course, we provide practical frameworks for these models and illustrates them through case studies.

Course leader

dr. Joost Smid

Target group

This course aims at PhD students and postdocs with MSc in Environmental Sciences, Biology, Biomedical Sciences or Engineering, with a solid basis of Statistics

Course aim

After completing this course the participant:
1. has gained understanding of the main pillars of microbial risk analysis;
2. has gained understanding of the steps of microbial risk assessment: hazard identification, hazard characterization, exposure assessment and risk characterization;
3. understands the bottom-up and top-down approaches used in risk assessment of infectious agents;
4. knows the principles of microbial risk assessment modelling, observational epidemiology and source attribution modelling;
5. has gained understanding of the type of data needed for these approaches;
6. knows concepts of variability and uncertainty and is able to determine their influence on outcomes of studies;
7. has basic knowledge of how the results of microbial risk assessment models can be used for determining the efficiency of intervention strategies;
8. has hands on experience with risk assessment models;
9. is able to communicate the results of a risk assessment study to a risk manager

Credits info

1.5 ECTS
+ Certificate of attendance

Fee info

EUR 1000: Excluding housing.

For PhD students the course fee is €500. Please send an email to the course leader for further information.

Register for this course
on course website