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Dr Victor Del Rio Vilas

Lecturer in Infectious Disease Epidemiology

My publications


Maxwell MJ, Freire de Carvalho MH, Hoe AE, Vigilato MAN, Pompei JC, Cosivi O, Del Rio Vilas V (2017) Building the road to a regional zoonoses strategy: A survey of zoonoses programmes in the Americas, PLoS One 12 (3) pp. e0174175-e0174175 Public Library of Science (PLoS)

In recent years, global public health security has been threatened by zoonotic disease emergence as exemplified by outbreaks of H5N1 and H1N1 influenza, SARS, and most recently Ebola and Zika. Additionally, endemic zoonoses, such as rabies, burden countries year after year, placing demands on limited finances and personnel. To survey the baseline status of the emerging and endemic zoonoses programmes of the Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) countries, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) conducted a survey of priority emerging and endemic zoonoses, countries´ prioritization criteria and methodologies, and suggestions to strengthen countries capacities and regional approaches to zoonoses control.


A fillable online questionnaire was sent to the zoonoses programme managers of the Ministries of Health (MOH) and Ministries of Agriculture (MAg) of 33 LAC countries from January to April of 2015. The questionnaire comprised 36 single, multiple choice and open-ended questions to inform the objectives of the survey. A descriptive exploratory analysis was completed.


Fifty-four ministries (26 MOH, 25 MAg, and 3 combined responses) in 31 LAC countries responded to the survey. Within the ministries, 22 (85%) MOH, 5 (20%) MAg, and 2 (67%) combined entities indicated they had specialized zoonoses units. For endemic zoonoses, 32 of 54 ministries responded that they conduct formal prioritization exercises, most of them annually (69%). The three priority endemic zoonoses for the MOHs were leptospirosis, rabies, and brucellosis while the three priorities for the MAgs were brucellosis, rabies, and tuberculosis. Diagnosis for rabies and leptospirosis were cited as the capacities most in need of development. The most needed cross-cutting capacity was coordination between stakeholders. For emerging zoonoses, 28 ministries performed formal prioritization exercises. The top prioritization criteria were probability of introduction into the country and impact. The three priority emerging zoonoses for the MOHs were Ebola viral disease, avian influenza, and Chikungunya while for the MAgs were avian influenza, bovine spongiform encephalopathy and West Nile virus disease. Surveillance for avian influenza and Ebola, and diagnosis for BSE were quoted as the capacities most needed. For all zoonoses, the majority of respondents (69%) ranked their relationship with the other Ministry as productive or very productive, and 31% minimally productive

Del Rio Vilas V, de Carvalho M, Vigilato M, Rocha F, Vokaty A, Pompei J, Flores B, Fenelon N, Cosivi O (2017) Tribulations of the last mile: sides from a regional programme, Frontiers in Veterinary Science 4 (4) Frontiers Media
In Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries, the number of cases of dog-mediated human rabies is at its lowest since the onset of the Regional Programme for Rabies Elimination in 1983, a commitment from LAC countries to eliminate dog-mediated rabies coordinated by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Despite minor setbacks, the decline in the number of human cases has been constant since 1983. While many LAC countries have significantly reduced rabies to a level where it is no longer of significant public health concern, elimination has proven elusive and pockets of the disease remain across the Region. In the 33-year period since 1983 the Region has set and committed to four dates for elimination (1990, 2000, 2012, and 2015). In this paper, we ponder on the multiple causes behind the elusive goal of rabies elimination, such as blanket regional goals oblivious to the large heterogeneity in national rabies capacities. Looking ahead to the elimination of dog mediated rabies in the Region, now established for 2022, we also review the many challenges and questions that the Region faces in the last mile of the epidemic. Given the advanced position of the Americas in the race towards elimination, our considerations could provide valuable knowledge to other regions pursuing elimination goals.
Kajero Olumayowa, Del Rio Vilas Victor, Wood James L. N., Lo Iacono Giovanni (2019) New methodologies for the estimation of population vulnerability to diseases: a case study of Lassa fever and Ebola in Nigeria and Sierra Leone, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 374 20180265 Royal Society
Public health practitioners require measures to evaluate how vulnerable
populations are to diseases, especially for zoonoses (i.e. diseases transmitted
from animals to humans) given their pandemic potential. These measures
would be valuable to support strategic and operational decision making
and allocation of resources. But, vulnerability is well defined for natural
hazards, for public health threats the concept remains undetermined.
Here, we developed new methodologies to: (i) quantify the impact of zoonotic
diseases and the capacity of countries to cope with these diseases, and
(ii) combine these two measures (impact and capacity) into one overall
vulnerability indicator. The adaptive capacity is calculated from estimations
of disease mortality although the method can be adapted for diseases with
no or low mortality but high morbidity. As example, we focused on the
vulnerability of Nigeria and Sierra Leone to Lassa Fever and Ebola. We
developed a simple analytical form that can be used to estimate vulnerability
scores for different spatial units of interest, e.g. countries or regions. We
showed how some populations can be highly vulnerable despite low
impact threats. We finally outlined future research to more comprehensively
inform vulnerability with the incorporation of relevant factors depicting
local heterogeneities (e.g. bio-physical and socio-economic factors).