Latin America News Dispatch: The Next Deadly Virus Could Start in the Amazon, Brazilian Scientists Warn

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How is an infectious disease born?

That is the question that set Joel Henrique Ellwanger on the path of studying emerging diseases in his home country of Brazil. As Ellwanger was studying the risk of disease spillover in Brazil, COVID-19 showed the world just how dangerous emerging viral diseases can be. As of May 19, nearly 17,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. In the Western Hemisphere, only the United States has more confirmed cases and deaths than Brazil.

A postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Immunobiology and Immunogenetics of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Ellwanger now spends his days helping the university provide diagnostic testing for COVID-19 in Porto Alegre, in Southern Brazil. But he also is sounding the alarm that if rampant Amazon deforestation continues, Brazil could be the source of the world’s next viral pandemic.

“People need to understand that preserving biodiversity and keeping forests intact are effective ways to preserve public health,” he said in an interview.

Read the full article on Latin America News Dispatch.