Letter from the Editor | 263

Monkeys and models

Four people have died from yellow fever in the metropolitan region of São Paulo since December, with the current outbreak showing no signs of slowing down. According to data released by the World Health Organization, 779 people in Brazil were diagnosed with the disease between December 2016 and August 2017, and 262 died. Preventive vaccination, which has been promoted nationwide, can help to avoid an even greater number of deaths, but such campaigns rely partly on information provided by another population: wild primates. Also susceptible to the disease, primate deaths can signal the arrival of the virus in a given region.

Nearly 20 years ago, the Ministry of Health proposed a strategy of monitoring primate deaths to identify new transmission areas. This approach has made it possible to adopt preventive measures, such as vaccination of the human population (there is no vaccine for the animals) or closure of forested parks. International organizations recommend vaccination of all residents within a 30-kilometer radius of locations where dead animals are identified.

This issue’s cover story offers a case study of the strategy adopted in São Paulo, which coordinates a number of public services, including the Endemic Disease Control Department (SUCEN), Adolfo Lutz Institute, various state agencies, and the Wildlife Management and Conservation Center for the city of São Paulo.

An epidemiological model developed by SUCEN determines the speed of travel and routes across the country that the virus is expected to take. The resulting maps enable the adoption of a preventive vaccination strategy, focused on the inhabitants of at-risk areas, even before dead monkeys are found in the region.

A series of affirmative actions taken by state and federal institutions since the 2000s aims to expand access to public university. The report on page 30 describes some of these initiatives and analyzes their results, demonstrating the complexity and challenging nature of trying to include students from a more diverse range of backgrounds without losing sight of quality. One thing that is clear is that university entrance exams are no longer the sole pathway to higher education. Bonus grades, reserve places, and government evaluations such as the National High School Exam (ENEM) now offer an assortment of university admission alternatives.

This month’s issue also includes articles on carnivorous plants that originated in what is now Brazil, micro-moths that spend most of their life as larvae or pupae inside the leaves that they eat, and the use of sugarcane residues, such as bagasse and straw, in paper production, among other topics. The report on page 80 describes how São Paulo has become the new mecca for sales of imported goods in Brazil. In recent years, the city has taken over from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay as Brazil’s main source of popular products imported from China. The legal import industry is worth US$ 30 billion per year, but there is also a sizable black market. These economic changes are related to immigration: in 2012, there were 250,000 Chinese citizens living in Brazil, of which 180,000 lived in São Paulo. Meanwhile, there were 20,000 Chinese citizens living near the Paraguayan border in the early 2000s, which has since dropped to 4,000. From São Paulo, these goods supply popular markets nationwide.