Infectious diseases decline with urbanization and wealth, but not biodiversity

Infectious diseases reduce human health both through death and disability, with the total disease burden being lower in wealthy and more urban countries, but higher in countries with more biodiversity. Contrary to expectations, increases in biodiversity over time did not result in better human health, and in fact higher disease burdens resulted when forest cover increased over time. Thus the key reason why infectious disease burdens have declined in recent decades is a shift towards urbanization and greater wealth, immediately suggesting levers for improving global human health. This research by SAFS professor Chelsea Wood and colleagues appeared in Philosophical Transactions B  and prominently covered in a recent report by The Atlantic.

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