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Zoonoses and vector-borne diseases in a changing world

     Zoonotic diseases, which are diseases transmitted between animals and people, are a major threat to global health security. Vector-borne diseases, mostly represented by those transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks, are on the rise due to the current trends of climate change and globalization. Addressing these challenges requires a collaborative approach involving healthcare professionals, veterinarians, ecologists, and policymakers. The One Health perspective emphasizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. By understanding the complex interactions between these fields, we can better prevent and control zoonotic and vector-borne diseases in a changing world.

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    Several tick-borne zoonotic diseases, including Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, and Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), are emerging in Europe, with climate change likely contributing to their spread. However, there is scarse data about the distribution of tick-borne diseases or their vectors in Catalonia, and this information is urgently required. WildCoM has been working on assessing the distribution and abundance of tick species in Catalonia, including quantifying the entry of Hyalomma ticks via migratory birds. We also study the interactions between abiotic factors, host communities, and tick species distribution to analyse the transmission risk of viral and bacterial zoonotic tick-borne pathogens. Our primary goal is to improve Catalonia’s resilience to the effects of climate change on vector-borne diseases by assisting in the development of tick-borne disease surveillance and control programs.

We have also investigated the role of wildlife in the spread of foodborne pathogens and antimicrobial resistant bacteria, as well as their potential use as environmental sentinels for zoonotic pathogens and AMR strains, using vultures, Pyrenean chamois, and chimpanzees as species models.

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