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The various domains of environmental policy provide a framework for analyzing relationships between environmental drivers and pressures, and specific infectious diseases (Table 1). These linkages are further explained below.

Table 1: Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and links to environmental change

Examples of drivers of
change and pressures
Examples of impacts caused by drivers and pressures Examples of infectious disease implications Examples of infectious diseases
potentially affected
Deforestation Ecosystem fragmentation
Destruction of natural balance leading to decrease in natural predators and changes in species dominance.
Easy access by farmers/workers/hunters to new land and natural areas.
Habitat disturbance.
More favourable conditions for propagation of disease vectors.
Increased number of vectors in human settlements. Vector numbers and habitats increase.
Increased contact with animal reservoirs and vectors.
Yellow fever, malaria, Kyasanur forest disease, Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers, zoonotic diseases that exist
normally in animals, but can infect humans.
Reforestation and expansion of housing Housing expands into woodland/forest fringes. Humans brought into closer contact with tick vectors and animal reservoirs (deer and rodents). Lyme disease.
Agriculture Monoculture destroys the natural balance, allowing propagation of vectors.
Concentration of demestic animals/cattle close to humans.
Land erosion and gullyng - more habitat for vectors.
Enviromental pollution (including contamination with pesticides).
More favourable conditions for propagation of disease vectors.
Vector numbers and habitats increase.
Increased contact with vectors.
Development of resistance by disease vectors.
Western and Venezuelan equine encephalitides, typhus.
Dam building and irrigation More open water
More stagnant water.
More fertile soil and sand beds.
Environmental pollution.
Increased habitat and breeding sites for vectors and carriers. Schistosomiasis, West Nile fever, Japanese encephalitis.
Rapid and unplanned urbanization Ecosystem fragmentation.
Destruction of natural balance.
Lack of water, sewerage and waste management systems.
More sites and more favourable conditions for propagation of disease vectors.
Spread of vectors and parasites.
Increased contact with infected people.
Tuberculosis, dengue hemorrhagic fever, plague, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
Untreated drinking water and waste water Inadequate sanitation Settlements without clean water and sanitation.
Water pollution (including accidents).
Increased contact with infection and increased mobility of infection in case of poor water management or accidents. Leptospirosis, malaria, cholera, cryptosporidia, diarrhoeal diseases.
Industry Transport Deteriorating air quality.
Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions leading to global warming.
Impaired lung function.
Increased mobility of infected people.
Spread of diseases and vectors into high latitudes and altitudes.
(Aggravated) respiratory diseases and infections, meningitis, cholera.
Chemical use
Antibiotics in livestock and
livestock waste
Antibiotics in livestock products and waste. Developing resistance in bacteria. Hepatitis, dengue, antibiotic-resistant bacterial diarrhoeal disease.

Notes: This table is selective and illustrative. Some diseases have more than one environmental ‘driver’. Many of the underlying drivers are primarily cultural, economic, demographic, and social.


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