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Anthropogenic forest loss and malaria prevalence: a comparative examination of the causes and disease consequences of deforestation in developing nations

1 Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Lehigh University
2 Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts, and Sciences, Lehigh University

Topical Section: Environmental Health

Malaria represents an infectious disease keenly tied to environmental conditions, as mosquitoes represent the disease vector. Many studies are beginning to document that changes in environmental conditions, such as deforestation, can greatly alter the density and activity of mosquito populations and therefore malaria rates. While numerous epidemiological studies examine the links between forest loss and mosquito proliferation in distinct locales, comparative assessments across multiple sites are lacking. We attempt to address this gap by imparting a cross-national analysis of less-developed, non-desert, malaria endemic nations. Using a structural equation model of 67 nations, we find positive associations between deforestation rates and malaria prevalence across nations. Our results also suggest that rural population growth and specialization in agriculture are two key influences on forest loss in developing nations. Thus, anthropogenic drivers of environmental degradation are important to consider in explaining cross-national variation in malaria rates.
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Keywords malaria; deforestation; infectious disease

Citation: Kelly F. Austin, Megan O. Bellinger, Priyokti Rana. Anthropogenic forest loss and malaria prevalence: a comparative examination of the causes and disease consequences of deforestation in developing nations. AIMS Environmental Science, 2017, 4(2): 217-231. doi: 10.3934/environsci.2017.2.217

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