Study links malaria to deforestation in the Amazon

Scientists have long suspected a relationship between deforestation and some infectious diseases. For instance, the 2014 Ebola crisis has been linked to logging that may have put workers and their families in close contact with infected bats. For malaria – one of the leading causes of death in tropical regions – there has been some evidence that the mosquitos that transmit it (called “vectors”) breed more readily in places where forest has been cleared. Now, a study published recently in Nature’s open-access journal Scientific Reports, adds to the hypothesis that deforestation aids the spread of malaria in the Amazon. For their study, researchers at institutions in Brazil and the U.S. attempted to find patterns between deforestation and malaria infection in nine states in the Brazilian Amazon. They looked at patches of rainforest that had been deforested or degraded (collectively termed “impacted” in the study), breaking them down into different size categories. They then compared these deforestation patches to local rates of malaria infection recorded between 2009 and 2015. Charcoal is produced by slowly burning wood to remove its water content. The study states: “According to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE)19, the inclusion of forestry products in the commercial exploitation of natural resources in 2015 represented an increase of approximately USD$ 1.5 billion in the gross value of Brazilian commodities. Commercial forest products included approximately 26 million tons of firewood, 12 million tons of logs and 331 thousand tons of wood charcoal.” Photo courtesy of Leonardo…

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Original Post by Mongabay

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