Deforestation cited in increased bat-to-human Ebola transmission

A report from the Environmental Research Management Foundation, the United Nations Development Program and the Environmental Foundation of Africa found that forest fragmentation increased bat-to-human transmission of Ebola, they announced Thursday.

The report detailed bats' response to deforestation activity and found that they, among many species, would be more likely to come into contact with human populations. Bats are a known reservoir species for the Ebola virus.

Forest fragmentation occurs when portions of forests are eliminated and remaining forested areas are segmented into smaller areas. This has taken place in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and many other West African countries and it is conducted typically for developmental reasons including human habitation, infrastructure and agricultural development.

In the report, the research team recommends that resource management and environmental surveys be completed as core elements for evaluation areas in recovery efforts. They also propose that an interdisciplinary group should advise policy relating to a precautionary approach as economic recovery plans are developed.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus disease has had 28,355 probable, suspected and confirmed cases, with 15,235  laboratory-confirmed cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the course of the outbreak, 11,311 people have died.

Organizations in this Story

International Society for Infectious Diseases

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