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Forest Loss Leads to Spread of Human Disease

Deforestation Human Diseases

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A new Stanford University study published in Landscape Ecology reveals viruses like COVID-19 that jump from animals to people will likely become more common as people continue to transform natural habitats into agricultural land. Researchers found the loss of tropical forests in Uganda put people at greater risk of physical interactions with wild primates and the viruses they carry, with implications for the emergence and spread of infectious animal-to-human diseases in other parts of the world. People have converted nearly half of the world’s land into agriculture. Tropical forests have suffered the most, with some of the highest rates of conversion occurring during the last few decades. Study co-author Tyler McIntosh says, “At the end of the day, land conservation and the reduction of forest fragmentation is our best bet to reduce human [to] wild animal interactions.”

 

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