ICBAS - Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar
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The One Health vision in diarrheal disease in Africa

By João Mesquita, ICBAS and Ana Machado, ICBAS

Death from diarrhea in childhood is largely preventable. However, the impact of diarrhea remains high and not fully characterized due to the complex interaction between the environment, food, water and sanitation, highlighting the multiple visions of One Health, particularly in Africa. A significant proportion of cases can be prevented through vaccination, clean water, sanitation and hygiene. Despite this, data from recent years report that diarrhea is responsible for the death of around 90% of children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa. Due to the significant mortality and long-term negative impacts on growth and development associated with chronic diarrhea, reducing the global burden of diarrhea remains a priority requiring multisectoral interventions.

Image – João Mesquita and Ana Machado at the ‘One Health Talk’ held at ICBAS on December 13, 2023. Credits: Begoña Pérez-Cabezas.

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Noticias

“Tide of plastic” on beaches in Northern Spain could affect Portugal

The researcher Bordalo e Sá considered today that the authorities must monitor the coast and “implement a tailor-made contingency plan” for the “plastic tide” on the beaches of Northern Spain that could affect Portugal.

“Right now the dominant currents are to the north. It is likely that these particles will reach Portugal in the spring, when the direction of the currents changes, and if the entire contents [of the containers that transported the plastic] have not washed up on the coast, which fell into the sea, although with a smaller impact. The first step will be to activate beach surveillance, also using civil society, and the second step will be to implement a tailor-made and supervised contingency plan”, explained the hydrobiologist from the University of Porto, speaking to Lusa.

Read the full text here.

Source: Green Savers Sapo, Lusa; Image: Camille Minouflet via Unsplash

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Water, conflicts and refugees

By Adriano A. Bordalo e Sá, ICBAS and Joana Savva Bordalo e Sá, IPO-Porto

PORTO – Of all human rights, access to water is one of the most recent. It was declared by the UN General Assembly only in 2010. However, billions of people consume unsafe water worldwide, which causes diseases and eventually kills. Unfortunately, more than half a million children die from diarrhea due to the consumption of unsafe water every year.

During conflicts and war, life gets worse. The recent invasion of the Gaza strip, is yet another painful example alongside the conflicts in Eastern Europe, Yemen, Burma, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, D. R. Congo, among others. Without water there is no rehydration, no hygiene, no health. In malnourished Palestine, infectious diseases are spreading and in Yemen, the cholera epidemic – a waterborne disease – has remained uncontrolled since 2016, having affected nearly 3 million people, especially children.

In the middle of last year, there were 110 million displaced people worldwide, of which a third were refugees, something never seen before. If in the rich parts of Algarve or California every person uses 1,000 liters of water per day (120 in Portugal), the refugees, at most, have 5 liters (half a bucket) available, often filthy, making their lives even more miserable, compromising future generations.

Image – Adriano A. Bordalo e Sá at the ‘One Health Talk’ held at ICBAS on November 23, 2023 Credits: Sofia A. Costa Lima.

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Pollution in the Douro estuary. Researchers warn of “pitiful” condition.

There are boats on the Douro River that are making illegal discharges and there is no one controlling them. They are identified as one of the causes of river pollution.

But for environmentalists and researchers, this is just one of many problems. There are 22 thousand houses or commercial spaces with direct or indirect sewage to the Douro estuary.

See the full report here.

Source: RTP Notícias; Image: Quentin Marquet, Pixabay.

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There are more cruises on the Douro but not all of them treat water

Guardianship guarantees its own residual station on Portuguese hotel ships, but not on foreign ones. Captaincy issued five notices. Waste collected by tanker trucks is dumped into the sewer system.

In the first half of this year alone, there were 11,322 trips on the Douro River, including hotel ships, day cruises or pleasure boats. There are 132 more than registered last year. And, although the Ministry of Economy and the Sea guarantees, to JN, that “hotel ships flying the Portuguese flag all have their own wastewater or sewage treatment system”, the same cannot be said about foreign cruises operating in the Douro. António Costa Silva's office says that they are certified "as local auxiliary vessels", but the "construction process does not pass through Portugal", not ensuring that they have a similar system.

Read the full text here.

Source: Jornal de Notícias / Image Credits: Pedro Correia – Arquivo Global Imagens

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Pollution levels of the Ave River above those recommended by the EU

ICBAS researchers warn of the impact of pollution caused by farming in the Ave river basin.

A study of the Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar of the University of Porto (ICBAS-UP), part of the ATLANTIDA Project (financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the NORTE 2020 Program), and recently published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, demonstrated that the use of pesticides from agricultural practices still has a significant negative impact on the Ave river.

What was, about 30 years ago, one of the most polluted rivers in the country and in Europe, the result of discharges from the textile industry characteristic of that region, continues today to face problems related to the pollution caused by the agricultural exploitation located in its hydrographic basin.

For Maria João Rocha, responsible for the study, these results are very relevant, in the sense that pollution in the Ave River is associated with the presence of industries, often forgetting that the effluents also come from agricultural areas.

Read the full text here.

Source: Notícias UP / Image credits: Câmara Municipal de Vila do Conde

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Noticias

Aquatic science at ICBAS at the service of the health of the Biosphere

There is a lot of water on the Planet. But since it is 97% salty, it cannot be directly used by most land, air and freshwater aquatic beings. If 2000 years ago we had the same amount of water available as today, at the time for the consumption of 72 million inhabitants, the 8 billion people today have to share it among everyday uses, such as domestic, industrial and agricultural, requiring ever-increasing amounts. The pressure on the water resource has never been so high, but with ongoing climate change, globally applicable measures must be taken to protect the hydrosphere.

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly approved a historic resolution considering access to drinking water as a human right, along with other enshrined rights. Part of the water returns to the aquatic environment, but with different chemical, physical and even microbiological characteristics. In other words, polluted. Contaminated water means a sick environment and, ultimately, leads to the degradation of the health of the Biosphere, the thin layer of the Earth where living beings are distributed.

Read the full article here.

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Research

BeachSafe Project: Is a microbiologically safe beach really safe?

In Europe, the quality of bathing water is regulated by a directive (from 2005) through two bacterial indicators: Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci, signs of fecal contamination. However, ongoing climate change promotes the emergence of other pathogenic bacteria not related to sewage. Among them, the vibrios, ubiquitous aquatic microorganisms responsible for various human diseases, such as cholera, sepsis, or hemorrhage.

As part of the BeachSafe project, a study carried out by the ICBAS Laboratory of Hydrobiology and Ecology, which analyzed the water of 10 popular coastal beaches in northern Portugal, revealed that most have low levels of fecal contamination, but a high number of different species of vibrios, especially during the summer bathing season.

This means that bathers are exposed to emerging pathogenic bacteria not screened during official routine bathing water quality surveys. Causes of these appear to be climate change and poorly treated wastewater discharges that help to spread these bacteria.

Currently, the risks for people are still little known and the project is working to find out the implications.

To know more:

BeachSafe project description do projeto BeachSafe
– Vibrio dynamics in bathing water and associated human health risk

Contact: Professor Adriano A. Bordalo (bordalo@icbas.up.pt)

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Research

Cholera: The forgotten pandemic

For several millennia, cholera - an acute diarrheal disease that can lead to death in a few days if left untreated - devastated the Indian subcontinent. Vasco da Gama, the well-known Portuguese navigator, died of cholera in southern India in the 16th century.

Cholera is still active today in four continents, with a special incidence in Africa. The disease is already in the 7th pandemic, which has been going on since 1960. In Europe, the last epidemic occurred in Portugal in 1974, where it infected almost 2,500 citizens and killed 48.

Contaminated water and food are the main sources of the cholera agent - a vibrio (bacteria) ubiquitous in coastal waters. Once ingested in a sufficient dose, the bacteria can escape the stomach's acid barrier and colonize the intestine. If toxins are produced, a person can lose up to 20 liters of internal fluid through watery diarrhea. If these fluids are not replaced, the patient dies. The treatment is particularly inexpensive, by electrolyte replacement through the administration of an oral rehydration solution, a mixture of sugar and salts and (eventually) common antibiotics.

Lack of clean water, sanitation, hygiene, and poor health care favor the spread of the disease. The battle for eradication is far from being accomplished, an additional problem for the poorest of the poor. The Laboratory of Hydrobiology and Ecology of ICBAS studies the conditions of access to water (quality and microbiology) of the population in Guinea-Bissau, analyzes the relationship between water consumption and the onset of disease, and identifies the possible causes of contamination of this precious liquid

To know more:

Water bags as a potential vehicle for transmitting disease in a West African capital, Bissau
Analysis of the bacterial community composition in acidic well water used for drinking in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa

Contact: Professor Adriano A. Bordalo (bordalo@icbas.up.pt)

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