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22/03/2018

Study warns that climate changes contribute to the increase of infectious diseases


Maurício Seixas (Fiocruz Amazonas)

Climate changes such as the destruction of ecosystems, deforestation and urbanization contribute to the increase of several infectious diseases in Brazil, such as pulmonary hantavirus syndrome, dengue fever, yellow fever, malaria, trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis and leptospirosis, a new study found.

In a recently published article, researchers Alessandra Nava, from the Leônidas & Maria Deane Institute (ILMD/Fiocruz Amazonas), Juliana Suieko Shimabukuro, Aleksei A. Chmura, and Sérgio Luiz Bessa Luz concludes that "there is strong evidence that some of these environmental changes will intensify in the near future if major anthropogenic activities are not controlled," which is worrisome today in the face of increased cases of yellow fever and other diseases.

Researchers  warn of the need for an active surveillance in the prevention of the emergence of diseases, especially focused on identifying possible areas of risk before they can become a threat to human and animal health.

For the researcher, it is necessary to observe anthropogenic actions in key regions that involve interactions of human populations, animals and vectors, and that from these interactions the appearance of emerging and reemerging diseases can result. This care must be inserted before making decisions and adopting public policies to build works that can significantly change the ecosystem.

“With this care, it would be possible not only to establish an early warning system for probable outbreaks, but also to model the propagation, analysis and application of rapid control or mitigation measures," the researcher adds.

In addition, the article suggests that human and animal mortality and morbidity caused by emerging infectious diseases will only be controlled when a holistic and transdisciplinary approach that is effectively implemented is devised.

Brazil
The situation is critical in Brazil, especially given the occupation of forest areas and the consequent deforestation for urbanization, construction of hydropower plants and expansion of the agricultural frontier for food production and large-scale animal husbandry. The consequence of this is that viruses previously identified only in primates and other animals are now closer to humans.

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