Front. Vet. Sci., 24 March 2021

Outbreaks of Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases Are Associated With Changes in Forest Cover and Oil Palm Expansion at Global Scale

This study by Morand and Lajaunie explores the outbreaks of vector-borne (dengue, chikungunya etc) and zoonotic (illness the spread between animals and people) in association to deforestation and increase in scale of oil palm  plantations. From the figure of the world map, it is clear that the areas with deforestation are frequently correlated with outbreaks. This is further supported by data of outbreaks and deforestation between 1990 to 2016. This study lends evidence towards the theory that the forest acts as a barrier between wildlife and humans in preventing disease outbreaks, hence the importance of policies in preserving biodiversity and management of forests. ︎︎︎

Journal of Experimental Biology Vol 213, Issue 6, March 2010

Deforestation and Avian Infectious Diseases

Author Sehgal advocates that the act of climate change, introduction of invasive species, urbanization, agricultural practices and loss of biodiversity are all compounding the effects of infectious disease spreading. One potential reason is the migration of birds due to habitat destruction, leading to them spreading novel pathogens to human population and other wildlife. This is especially concerning as birds and humans share many of the similar types of pathogens, making them very transmissible. ︎︎︎

Science, 29 April 2021

The Sentinels

This story, published in the Science website together with the Pulitzer Centre, highlights how a team of scientists scours the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, for diseases that can cause the next pandemic. In their expedition, they have identified a little-studied virus that causes flu-like symptoms and is rapidly spreading in South America. Other pathogens are also being studied from feces, blood and other samples from over 100 rainforest animals. The scientists are worried about an infection spillover event from wildlife to humans, mainly due to deforestation that changes habitat of animals or insects that can harbor disease. In their work here, they hope to predict diseases that have yet to emerge. ︎︎︎