Land use change and human health

Jonathan A. Patz, Douglas Norris

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Disease emergence events have been documented following several types of land use change. This chapter reviews several health-relevant land use changes recognized today, including: 1) urbanization and urban sprawl; 2) water projects and agricultural development; 3) road construction and deforestation in the tropics; and 4) regeneration of temperate forests. Because habitat or climatic change substantially affects intermediate invertebrate hosts involved in many prevalent diseases, this chapter provides a basic description of vector-borne disease biology as a foundation for analyzing the effects of land use change. Urban sprawl poses health challenges stemming from heat waves exacerbated by the “urban heat island” effect, as well as from water contamination due to expanses of impervious road and concrete surfaces. Dams, irrigation and agricultural development have long been associated with diseases such as schistosomiasis and filariasis. Better management methods are required to address the trade-ofts between expanded food production and altered habitats promoting deadly diseases. Deforestation can increase the nature and number of breeding sites for vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and onchocerciasis. Human host and disease vector interaction further increases risk, as can a change in arthropod-vector species composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEcosystems and Land Use Change, 2004
EditorsGregory P. Asner, Richard A. Houghton, Ruth S. Defries
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781118665985
ISBN (Print)9780875904184
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

Publication series

NameGeophysical Monograph Series
ISSN (Print)0065-8448
ISSN (Electronic)2328-8779

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics

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