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deforestation

Disease and deforestation

Baré Indians bathing in the Cuieiras River in the Amazon. The study measured the impacts that the clearing of vegetation has on human health

Daniel Zanini H / Flickr Baré Indians bathing in the Cuieiras River in the Amazon. The study measured the impacts that the clearing of vegetation has on human healthDaniel Zanini H / Flickr

Policies for managing malaria in the Amazon need to take deforestation of the region into account. This was the finding of a team from the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA) that surveyed the impact of the devastation of forests on the population’s health. An analysis published in October 2015 reported deforestation data and disease statistics on 773 municipalities in the Amazon Deforestation Monitoring Project from 2004 to 2012. It found that for every 1% of forest felled per year, cases of malaria increased 23%. The incidence of leishmaniasis also climbed as deforestation advanced, and the number of cases increased 8% to 9%. The impacts that the clearing of vegetation has on diseases such as measles, diarrhea, Dengue fever and respiratory disorders were not recorded. The study, performed by biologist Nilo Saccaro Junior and economists Lucas Mation and Patrícia Sakowski, did not investigate how the imbalance leads to an increase in some diseases but not others. However, it suggests that the characteristics of the vectors may explain the difference. The Anopheles mosquito, which causes malaria, lives longer and travels farther than the Aedes aegypti, which spreads Dengue fever, so it may travel to populated areas after devastation of its own habitats. Moreover, the authors say that it is possible that species that transmit malaria more effectively, such as the Anopheles darlingi, are becoming more prevalent than more benign species.

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