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Wed Oct 23, 2019, 09:22 PM

More Than A Decade's Of Data From Brazil : A 10% Rise In Deforestation Means A 3.3% Rise In Malaria

Tropical deforestation may spur the transmission of malaria at levels much higher than once thought, according to a recent study. Disease ecologist Andrew MacDonald and his Stanford University colleague Erin Mordecai analyzed more than a decade of data showing the occurrences of malaria in nearly 800 villages, towns and cities across the Brazilian Amazon. They also looked at satellite-tracked deforestation over that same time frame.

Understanding the effect each variable has on the other is tricky. That’s because the rise in malaria cases that follows deforestation appears, in turn, to diminish continued deforestation. The disease slows local economies and discourages people from settling in high-malaria areas. MacDonald and Mordecai found that a 1 percent rise in the incidence of malaria corresponds to a 1.4-percent dip in deforestation. This “feedback” has clouded conclusions from earlier research about deforestation’s true effect on malaria, MacDonald, now based at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said in an email.

To cut through the confusion, the researchers controlled for malaria’s impact on deforestation in their analysis. They then found that previous estimates had been about three times lower than the actual effect of deforestation on malaria.

The team calculated that a 10 percent rise in deforestation led to a 3.3 percent average increase in malaria transmission. For 2008, that amounted to another 9,980 cases across the Brazilian Amazon. They reported their results in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Oct. 14.
Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria. Image by Photo Credit:Content Providers(s): CDC/Dr. Mae MelvinTranswiki approved by: w:en:Usermcdevit [Public domain]



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