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Forest conversion and the changing epidemiological environment in southeast Asia

Funding Year: 
2007
Region(s): 
Asia
Research Areas: 
Natural Capital
Public Health

Forest conversion for agribusiness development has well-known impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, and regional and global climate stability. However, a profound feature of land conversion that has received less attention is its potential for altering the epidemiology of infectious diseases, including the emergence of novel infections. Southeast Asia represents a hotspot for recent disease emergence, including such well-known diseases as highly pathogenic avian influenza, SARS, and the lesser-known but equally virulent Nipah virus. Our mulit-disciplinary team will travel to the province of West Kalimantan to collect samples that will allow us to characterize the changing epidemiological environment of this remote and highly vulnerable center for biodiversity as a result of ongoing deforestation.