The COVID-19 pandemic has raised plenty of questions about whether the planet’s declining health is what ails humans. The answer is yes, and it’s not a metaphorical response. Distorting the blue planet’s green cover, hollowing out dense forests and tacking tree plantations at will fuels the rise of diseases, a growing body of research shows. From Ebola in Africa to malaria outbreaks in Brazil to tick-borne illnesses in the U.S., there is a common thread: fluctuating forest cover, a recent study in Frontiers in Veterinary Science has found. The study authors spotlight an overlooked hazard: oil palm plantations, which they call a “threat to global health.” COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, one where the pathogen emerges in animals and spills over into humans. How the SARS-CoV-2 virus made this jump is still under investigation, but one theory posits that a bat coronavirus entered human populations via an intermediary host. This scenario has raised concerns about the health risks related to wildlife trade and human incursions into natural habitats. The new study examined linkages between deforestation and reforestation with vector-borne and zoonotic diseases between 1990 and 2016. Vector-borne diseases including malaria, dengue and Lyme disease are transmitted by insects like mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. Both vector-borne and zoonotic diseases occurred more frequently in this period, with the former seeing a marked surge. Greener tropical countries like Brazil and Indonesia that report high deforestation rates suffer more frequent vector-borne disease outbreaks, the analysis found. Data from other nations like Peru and Bolivia…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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