Emerging virosis: Ebola is among the lightest problems Brazil may face

Publicação: 13 de December de 2014

Oropouche, mayaro, West Nile and chikungunya are closer and more urgent threats for the Brazilian public health system

Dr. Tadeu 2

Oropouche has been spreading and already has registered cases in Maranhao and Minas Gerais. The mayaro disease is also spreading throughout places as Sao Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul

Brazil is close to facing viral epidemics from parasites already in the country and others still to come. However, those who think the greatest emerging threat is the ebola are wrong. This is what the professor of the Medical Clinics Department of the Ribeirao Preto Medical School from the Sao Paulo University, Luiz Tadeu Figueiredo  forwards. According to him, the virus affecting thousands of people in Western Africa is one of the smallest problems for the national public health system.

“Ebola is not like influenza, which is transmitted when the person breathes or cough. A more direct contact with secretions is necessary. This way it would hardly spread from a single imported case”, explains the doctor, who lectures about infectious and tropical diseases. For him, the main concerns should involve local viruses, as oropouche and mayaro.

One of the major threats already in Brazil, according to Dr. Tadeu, is the oropouche fever, which is usually benign and lasts from three to five days. After dengue fever, this is the virus that registers the greater number of infected people in the country. Since the first urban outbreak, in the 1960s, there have been over 100 thousand cases in the Amazon and Center-West regions.

New epidemics of the disease have been currently registered and, as the vector is a very common mosquito in the country, known as maruim (Culicoides paraenses), the oropouche fever is spreading to other areas, having reported cases in Maranhão and Minas Gerais. “It could emerge in the Northeastern and Southeastern regions, where this mosquito is easily found”, alerts.

Another emerging virus is the mayaro, transmitted by the same mosquito that carries the wild yellow fever, the Haemagogus. It causes fever and severe joint pain, similar to the effects of the chikungunya. “In the Amazon this disease is already a public health issue. In some regions, for example, next to the Negro River, around 40% of the people have already been infected by this virus”, explains the physician. Still according to him, just like yellow fever, the virus has spread throughout southernmost locations of the country, as Sao Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul.

Besides the internal threats, in the next months, Brazilians will also hear about a virus that, slowly, is entering national territory. It is the case of West Nile Fever, which entered North America in 1999 and spread through the United States. In three years, thousands of cases were registered, causing a serious public health problem because the virus was even transmitted through blood transfusions. Now, the problem has been registered in South America as well, although they are still isolated cases.

“The disease is a zoonosis of migratory birds that make very long journeys, as the swallows, that comes to the south when its winter in North America. The virus has reached Argentina and Brazil, but in isolated cases among horses”, reminds Dr. Tadeu while adding that the West Nile fever is already here, and at any moment we could have an outbreak.

Probable serious problem in the next years

Despite the imminent risk of these viruses, the great “villain” should be the chikungunya. “This is a real and very serious threat. Probably the virus will become a serious health issue in the next years in the country”, affirms the physician. According to the Health Ministry, around 44% of the 1453 municipalities are in alert or risk situation for dengue or chikungunya fever cases. In 117 of these places, developing points of the Aedes aegypi – which transmits both the diseases – were found in 4 of each 100 visited houses in October.

The disease, that causes fevers and even inflammation of the body’s joints, caused numerous cases in Asia and Europe. Recently, the virus was identified in the Caribbean and in French Guiana – a country that borders with Brazil’s Amapa State. “This virus is reaching a highly infested region by the vector. Besides this, our populations is very susceptible to the alfavirus [transmitted by mosquitoes]. So, the odds of having huge epidemics in Brazil this summer or the next, are very high”, alerted the expert.…