Dr. Dalva de Assis

In which of your field trips did you feel most excited about and in which you were the saddest to see a given situation?
I had many interesting trips, but I will mention one because during the investigation we were able to identify a possible way of transmission of the yellow fever vaccine virus, through breastfeeding, when the mother gets the vaccine in the same period that she had a baby and continues breastfeeding. And so new recommendations were made about the use of the vaccine during breastfeeding, which possibly made it possible to avoid cases of neurological and visceral diseases as well as sequelae possibly caused by the vaccine virus.
A very sad trip was when I was in Africa in a region that had been devastated by a cyclone. And there the population was left without homes, water, electricity, etc... besides the appearance of many diseases that are transmitted mainly by lack of basic sanitation.

What is epidemiology? What is its main purpose?
It is the science that studies the health-disease process in human communities, analyzing the distribution and the factors that determine the occurrence of diseases, damage to health, and events associated with collective health, proposing specific measures to prevent, control, or eradicate diseases, and providing indicators to support the planning, administration, and evaluation of health actions.
The main goal of Epidemiology is to care for the collective health, that is, the population as a whole.

Have you ever gone to do research in other countries?
Yes, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Mozambique and Angola, these two located in Africa.

Are there any risks with the HPV vaccine?
All vaccines can have adverse events, but they are very rare, and the benefit of getting the vaccine is much greater compared to a possible event caused by the use of the vaccine. So it is best to get vaccinated. If in doubt you can seek a doctor at a Primary Health Care Unit (pediatrician and ask more questions about the HPV vaccine) or a nurse in the Vaccine Room.

I would ask Dalva how she manages to work with such difficult and cruel situations and diseases?
You girls will see that when we do what we love, even in the worst situations or difficult scenarios of war, natural disasters, etc., it is possible to work pretty well and with love. Doing what you like is the best way to always be able to do a job with love.

Is there any chance, in the future, that procedures to find a cure for other epidemiological diseases will be carried out?
Yes, always. We have groups of researchers working every day to find a cure for diseases that affect our population. We can also mention the treatments that reduce the consequences of many diseases or even those that improve the quality of life of those who have some illness, for example diabetics who use insulin.

What is it like to work with Covid-19?
It gives me the opportunity to be useful to society and to have an incredible experience. As I said in the conversation, being an epidemiologist in times of epidemics is a way to be useful and at the same time to learn from a disease like this.

Does the issue of public policies interfere with public health?
Yes, very much so! Because public policies should be directed to the common good of society. The rulers and decision makers should legislate and act according to what we epidemiologists and other researchers produce of data, information, and knowledge so that the entire population can enjoy a unique health system that meets the needs of each individual.

How does it feel to discover something new?
It's wonderful, because you know that it will help solve a problem and less people will get sick or avoid having a problem.

I wonder how they can be so amazing???? We are normal people, we only choose an area that we like and we dedicate ourselves to be useful to the planet.

How does it feel to help people with discoveries? It's like we've won a great gift, because you know that what you're doing can improve the life of someone you don't even know.

How does an illness arise? There are numerous types of diseases, but in general, diseases arise when there is an imbalance process between the individual, the environment and the pathogen – the causative agent of the disease.

But does this only happen with the Yellow Fever vaccine? And could I take the vaccine and give another milk? This can happen with other viruses too. It would be analyzed and depending on the need, the breastfeeding period is expected before being vaccinated.

I wanted to know if there is any place with all the disease samples, and who works in this place, working on new remedies and cures, what would the profession be? Yes there is, yes, they are laboratories with high biosecurity, where they keep samples of viruses, bacteria, etc., of the most serious diseases that could reemerge in the future. The profession of these professionals are generally scientists in the area of ​​biological sciences and health in general. 

How do you help in natural disasters like Cyclone Keneth. What do you do after arriving in the country? In this help I worked to contain an outbreak of cholera (a lot of diarrhea caused by contaminated water) which is very common after natural disasters in places where there is no good sanitation.

What is the basis for finding a vaccine for a type of virus? Knowing how the human body makes antibodies against those viruses, then focusing on that and developing a “weaker” disease virus to stimulate the body to produce antibodies (little soldiers that kill the real disease viruses when they enter our body).

What was the first record of a vaccine? More than 200 years ago, when a rural doctor observed that women who milked cows did not have their hands bruised by the blisters of a very common disease of the time, smallpox. Believing that the milkers who had acquired a similar but milder disease from the cows and therefore they would be protected. So this doctor did a very risky experiment for the health care models we have today. He removed the substance from the few lesions on the hands of these milking women and placed/inoculated it in the arm of an 8-year-old child, who was the son of his gardener who lived there on the farm. Six weeks later, in the child's other arm, he inserted the smallpox virus itself and the boy did not acquire the disease. So the first vaccine was created and the name vaccine comes from Cow because of that.

how is the study of vaccines? And the study of immunology, that is, we study our body's ability to produce an immune response (antibodies - defense soldiers) against diseases within our body