Development, environmental degradation, and disease spread in the Brazilian Amazon

PLoS Biol. 2019 Nov 15;17(11):e3000526. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000526. eCollection 2019 Nov.


The Amazon is Brazil's greatest natural resource and invaluable to the rest of the world as a buffer against climate change. The recent election of Brazil's president brought disputes over development plans for the region back into the spotlight. Historically, the development model for the Amazon has focused on exploitation of natural resources, resulting in environmental degradation, particularly deforestation. Although considerable attention has focused on the long-term global cost of "losing the Amazon," too little attention has focused on the emergence and reemergence of vector-borne diseases that directly impact the local population, with spillover effects to other neighboring areas. We discuss the impact of Amazon development models on human health, with a focus on vector-borne disease risk. We outline policy actions that could mitigate these negative impacts while creating opportunities for environmentally sensitive economic activities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Brazil
  • Climate Change
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Disease / etiology
  • Ecosystem
  • Forests
  • Humans
  • Vector Borne Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Vector Borne Diseases / transmission