Amphibian deaths exacerbate malaria outbreaks in Central America

According to a new study, global deaths of frogs and other amphibians exacerbated outbreaks of malaria in Costa Rica and Panama in the 1990s and 2000s. The work results are presented at the fall meeting of the AGU 2020 (American Geophysical Union).

The findings are the first evidence that a decline in amphibian populations directly affects human health. The study illustrates how biodiversity conservation benefits people and local ecosystems.

The global spread of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a virulent fungal pathogen, has caused massive deaths in amphibians worldwide since the 1980s. A 2019 study found that this reptile disease – chytridiomycosis – played a role in the extinction of more than 500 amphibian species over the past 50 years and is believed to have caused the extinction of 90 species.

In a new study, scientists have found a link between malaria outbreaks and declines in amphibians. Recall that it is the amphibians that eat the mosquitoes that carry the disease. Their findings are among the first to show that species extinction and biodiversity loss directly impact human health, the researchers said.

According to the study, other environmental factors, such as deforestation, have also played a role in exacerbating the outbreaks. Still, no other factor has had a greater impact on malaria cases than the decline in amphibians.

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