Continued deforestation has the potential to unleash devastating pandemics into human populations, scientists claim
Deforestation could fuel deadly spread of malaria, yellow fever and Lyme disease
17th November, 2010
The economic and climate-related impacts of forest destruction are well known, but continued logging could unleash devastating new pandemics and spread fatal diseases into the human population, scientists tell the Ecologist
The costs of deforestation in terms of climate change, biodiversity and economics are well known. Rainforests are also reservoirs for possible drugs, many of which have not yet been explored. But alarming new scientific research is presenting another compelling case for the urgent need to stop destruction of the world's forests.
In a series of exclusive interviews, scientists have told the Ecologist that if we don't keep remaining forests intact there is a danger that some of the planet's most life-threatening diseases could spread on a dangerous and unmanageable scale. The experts also warn that there is a serious risk of unleashing pandemics of new viruses into the world's human population.
Ravinder Sehgal, associate professor of biology at San Francisco State University, specialises in studying the effects of deforestation on African rainforest birds by mapping and modelling their diseases and blood parasites. But his research has huge potential relevance to human health.
'Non-migratory birds are a more natural system than humans, who move around a lot, so in looking at them we can determine how ecology affects the spread of disease a bit more easily,' he says. His work in Africa on...
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