EPIWild researchers participated in seminar on emerging diseases

Daniela Contreras
04 December 2023

The activity was organized by the SEREMI of Health of Los Ríos and the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences of the Universidad Austral de Chile, with the participation of specialists from different areas, including three of EPIWild's researchers.

The emergence of new diseases in our country is a matter of concern for the authorities, as they have become a public health problem that requires an interdisciplinary approach.

In this context, the Regional Ministerial Secretariat of Health of Los Ríos, through the Epidemiology section of the Department of Public Health and Health Management, together with the Institute of Veterinary Preventive Medicine of the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences of the Austral University of Chile, organized the Second Seminar "Emerging and re-emerging diseases from the perspective of One Health".

This meeting took place on Tuesday, November 28 at the Cine Club UACh and brought together specialists from different areas who addressed the advances in research on this type of zoonotic diseases, prioritizing an integral approach.

The Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Dr. Ricardo Enriquez, welcomed the attendees to this event, highlighting the participation of different experts who during the day gave their knowledge about the risks that exist in human-animal interaction. "This concept of One Health calls us every day to resolve and from the academy to generate scientific information that allows us to make validated decisions in the world of human health and ecosystemic health," he said.

Cristina Ojeda, SEREMI of Health of Los Ríos, pointed out that zoonotic diseases "have accompanied us throughout history, but today climate change, urbanization and other factors have caused them to spread throughout the territory". An example of this, he said, is what is happening with the dengue mosquito in the northern part of the country, whose presence is reaching the Valparaíso region and may continue to advance towards the south.

The authority emphasized that it is necessary to look at the concept of One Health, i.e., "that human and animal health are interdependent and are also linked to the environment. If we want to make better decisions regarding human health, we have to be concerned about animal health.

One Health

During the 2000s, the concept of One Health began to be incorporated as a response to the need to address in an interdisciplinary manner and with a global collaborative approach, how to deal with diseases, understanding the risks to human health, animal health and ecosystems.

In this regard, Dr. Carla Rosenfeld, academic of the Institute of Veterinary Preventive Medicine UACh, who gave the talk "One Health: Global Health at the human-animal-environment interface and multidisciplinary cooperation", said that "we have been studying this topic because although conceptually it has a logic, materializing or operationalizing this concept is not so easy, since throughout our history we have been working separately and now it means that we must work in collaboration with different disciplines".

He added that "it is necessary to establish a global collaborative approach in order to understand the risks to human health, animal health, both in domestic and wild animals and ecosystems".


Dr. Gerardo Acosta, academic of the Institute of Veterinary Preventive Medicine UACh presented a summary of the studies carried out on the reservoirs of scrub typhus, a new disease that has been described in Chile only 10 years ago.

"We have studied the reservoirs in rodents and also epidemiological surveillance in domestic animals to determine the real extent of this disease that is occurring and had not been described outside the Asia Pacific," the researcher said.

This work is being carried out together with a team of physicians, biochemists and veterinarians from Universidad Católica, U. del Desarrollo and Universidad Austral de Chile.

He indicated that this "is a disease caused by a mite that contains a bacterium that produces different symptoms, especially a maculopapular reaction all over the body and a black spot, produces fever, headache, disorientation, among other symptoms".

Also speaking at this activity were Dr. Cristóbal Verdugo, Director of the Institute of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, whose talk was on "Danger vs. risk: Temporal quantification of resistance genes in the environment"; and Dr. Claudio Verdugo, Director of the Institute of Animal Pathology, who addressed the topic "Avian Influenza. Ecology and migrations".

Both academics, together with Dr. Acosta, are part of the project team. EPIwildproject, which studies emerging pathogens in sentinel species, potentially connecting the interfaces of human health, as well as domestic and wild animals, allowing early detection of potential pandemics.

This work seeks to predict the occurrence of pathogens in specific areas based on the degree of habitat fragmentation and to propose the design of surveillance strategies to help mitigate disease risk.

Text and photos: Faculty of Veterinary Sciences UACh


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