University of São Paulo: Scientists and Doctors Struggle to Fight New Communicable Diseases


In recent years, Brazil and the world have registered, at each period, a new epidemic of diseases. Emerging infectious diseases, communicable diseases that are new or that have emerged in a particular country. What’s happening? Rádio USP spoke with the professor of Preventive Medicine at the USP School of Medicine, epidemiologist Expedito José de Albuquerque Luna, to understand.

Let’s start with history, which begins in the 16th century, when Spanish explorers brought smallpox, typhus, measles and Spanish flu to various populations around the world. This true biological warfare led to approximately 50 million deaths at the time.

After the industrial revolution, there was an improvement in the living conditions of the population and, consequently, a reduction in infectious diseases and an increase in chronic diseases, such as heart disease or cancer. This epidemiological transition occurred first in developed countries and then in the Americas, according to Professor Expedito Luna.

Vaccines and antibiotics
Only in the 20th century did vaccines and antibiotics appear, generating great optimism in science and in the general population with a possible extermination of infectious diseases. Just when it was thought that everything would apparently be under control, to the surprise of doctors and the scientific community, HIV appears, which scared the United States. An infectious, unknown and lethal disease.

“The development of cities would be one of the causes of the emergence of diseases or the return of others. The population would be migrating from farms and farms to large cities”, says Luna, a situation enhanced by globalization, which helps to spread new diseases such as covid-19 and smallpox . Both spread with the travel of people between continents.

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