Amazon deforestation and malaria transmission

Researchers examine links between malaria transmission and deforestation in the Amazon. Anthropogenic impacts on the environment can harm public health, and the majority of evidence linking the two is locally specific and dependent on ecological context, such as region or climate conditions. To determine whether malaria transmission in Brazil is influenced by deforestation in the Amazon, Andrew J. MacDonald and Erin A. Mordecai compared a dataset of malaria cases reported in 795 municipalities of the Brazilian Amazon between 2003 and 2015 with annual forest loss and total forest cover from the Hansen Global Forest Change dataset. The authors found that a 10% increase in deforestation was correlated with a 3.27% increase in malaria cases. This effect was more apparent in the Amazon’s interior region than the outer Amazonian states, where comparatively little forest remains. Moreover, an approximate 1% increase in malaria cases was correlated with a 1.4% decrease in cleared forest area. An increase in malaria cases was also correlated with precipitation and optimal temperature for transmission in the dry season, when malaria is most frequently transmitted. The results suggest that deforestation increases the number of malaria cases, which in turn reduces forest clearing. This bidirectional feedback exemplifies how environmental and human health are intertwined, according to the authors.


Article #19-05315: “Amazon deforestation drives malaria transmission, and malaria burden reduces forest clearing,” by Andrew J. MacDonald and Erin A. Mordecai.

MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew J. MacDonald, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA; tel: 612-940-8559; email:

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Andrew J. MacDonald

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