What is it about?
Urban growth changes the way people, animals, and the environment interact, with potential implications for zoonotic disease emergence. We used a novel ecosystem-level approach to examine the influence of urbanization on zoonotic disease risk in a Southeast Asian city in Malaysian Borneo. We found that urbanization changes the ecology of animals, their ectoparasites, and the pathogens they carry and may increase transmission risk from multiple zoonotic diseases in urban areas. This effect was particularly strong for pathogens associated with environmental or tick-borne transmission.
Photo by Svetozar Cenisev on Unsplash
Why is it important?
Urbanization is rapidly changing much of Southeast Asia, which is a global hotspot for new and emerging diseases, including those of zoonotic origin. Urban growth not only changes the structure and function of the landscape, but also the way people, animals, and the environment interact. Our findings show that urbanization may increase transmission risk from multiple zoonotic diseases associated with rodents in urban areas. This has the potential to add to the burden of the many existing health challenges in Southeast Asia, including those posed by zoonotic diseases like leptospirosis and hantavirus. Our work provides a foundation for the development of low-cost public and environmental health interventions to reduce zoonotic disease risk in tropical cities.
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This page is a summary of: Rats and the city: Implications of urbanization on zoonotic disease risk in Southeast Asia, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2112341119.
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