Jun 24, 2020 - Health

Scientists say deforestation could worsen pandemic

Logging truck

Photo: Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images

Scientists say accelerating deforestation could lead to increased human contact with pandemic diseases, and could also worsen the current coronavirus pandemic, NPR reports.

What's happening: Money and resources for monitoring tropical forests in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America have been transferred to help fight the pandemic, turning a blind eye toward illegal deforestation activities like logging and mining.

  • “There are several pathogens that once you have a deforestation event then you get spillover and you don’t know whether that’s because we’re losing biodiversity that otherwise would kind of help dilute that pathogen, or if it's humans coming into the area and increasing their risky behaviors," Christina Faust, postdoctoral scholar Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Penn State University, told NPR.

The bottom line: Researchers believe 75% of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. Eliminating ecosystems means emerging pathogens have fewer and fewer non-humans to infect.

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