Land-use change and emerging infectious disease on an island continent

Rosemary A. McFarlane, Adrian C. Sleigh, Anthony J. McMichael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


A more rigorous and nuanced understanding of land-use change (LUC) as a driver of emerging infectious disease (EID) is required. Here we examine post hunter-gatherer LUC as a driver of infectious disease in one biogeographical region with a compressed and documented history-continental Australia. We do this by examining land-use and native vegetation change (LUCC) associations with infectious disease emergence identified through a systematic (1973-2010) and historical (1788-1973) review of infectious disease literature of humans and animals. We find that 22% (20) of the systematically reviewed EIDs are associated with LUCC, most frequently where natural landscapes have been removed or replaced with agriculture, plantations, livestock or urban development. Historical clustering of vector-borne, zoonotic and environmental disease emergence also follows major periods of extensive land clearing. These advanced stages of LUCC are accompanied by changes in the distribution and density of hosts and vectors, at varying scales and chronology. This review of infectious disease emergence in one continent provides valuable insight into the association between accelerated global LUC and concurrent accelerated infectious disease emergence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2699-2719
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


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