Health Desk--2 November 2017: A study published in online journal Scientific Reports was the first to find a time correlation between deforestation and the onset of Ebola, caused by a virus which humans catch from infected wild animals that can then be transmitted between humans through direct contact.
Ebola ravaged Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2014-2016, killing around 11,300 people in the world's worst recorded outbreak, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
There have been dozens of smaller outbreaks since the disease was discovered in 1976, typically in remote villages near tropical rainforests in West and Central Africa, WHO said.
By analysing 27 outbreak sites for the period 2001-2014, researchers found that the Ebola was significantly more likely to emerge in areas with surrounding forest loss, typically two years after the damage was done.
Deforestation likely pushes infected wild animals into human areas, but how exactly this works - and why it takes two years - is not yet known, said John Fa, a professor at Manchester Metropolitan University and one of the authors of the report.