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Deforestation and climate change influence the emergence of viruses such as Ebola and Dengue fever.

Ignacio López-Goñi, Full Professor of the University of Navarra, gives a session on "Pandemics and emerging viruses" at the Ateneo Navarro.

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Ignacio López-Goñi
PHOTO: Manuel Castells

"There are different factors that influence the emergence of new viruses. Their own characteristics, human factors and also the action of man on ecosystems and the environment". This was explained by Ignacio López-Goñi, Full Professor of Microbiology of the School of Sciences of the University of Navarra, who gave a session on"Pandemics and emerging viruses" within the course organized by the Ateneo Navarro"The microbes that surround you".

It has been described that the construction of dams or large water reservoirs is related to the appearance of yellow fever. "Deforestation in the Amazon has caused new outbreaks of rabies by favoring the contact between bats and people". Likewise, small temperature changes caused by global warming "cause the distribution of mosquitoes to change and with them the spread of diseases that are no longer tropical and advance to more temperate zones".

Globalization and other factors also contribute to the spread of viruses. However, in the case of Ebola it is very unlikely that the virus will spread to Europe. "It is transmitted by contact and soon kills its victim so the chain of transmission of the virus ends soon. In addition, the sanitary and control conditions are very different from those in Africa." Despite the fact that it is a highly pathogenic and deadly virus, "since 1976 there have been about 2,500 deaths from this disease, while malaria kills 3,200 people a day".

The course, directed by Francisco Javier Novo, professor at the University of Navarra, will also include Ricardo Amils, Full Professor of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, who will talk about microorganisms in extreme living conditions, and Carlos Martín, from the University of Zaragoza, who will explain the research and development of a new vaccine against tuberculosis.