Impacts of Deforestation on Vector-borne Disease Incidence

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Allison Gottwalt


Forest clearance alters ecosystem dynamics and leads to new breeding habitats for disease vectors, such as mosquitoes, fleas and ticks, by reshaping existing ecosystem boundaries. Such boundaries are often sites of contact between humans and forest pathogens. There is a well-documented, positive association between the increased deforestation of an area and the emergence of zoonotic, vector-borne diseases. Populations living within or near these fragmented forests are at a much higher risk of infection due to increased contact with vectors at forest edges and the reduced biodiversity of the area. This paper explores studies that have demonstrated that human-vector contact in newly created forest edges has led to increased risk of malaria in Peru, American Cutaneous Leishmaniasis (ACL) in Costa Rica and hantavirus in Panama. It is important to identify at-risk populations and develop strategies to minimize their exposure in order to prevent wider spread of these diseases and help implement targeted control strategies.

Article Details

deforestation, vector-borne, disease, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama
How to Cite
Gottwalt, A. (2013). Impacts of Deforestation on Vector-borne Disease Incidence. The Columbia University Journal of Global Health, 3(2), 16–19.