The Ebola epidemic has had severe impacts on rural livelihoods.
Photo: © Terry Sunderland / CIFOR (Flickr)


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Scientists found strong evidence of an association between Ebola outbreak locations and deforestation. The data could lead to the development of an early warning system. Most Ebola outbreaks happen in remote, rural communities with few resources to fight the disease.

News of an Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) outbreak strikes fear not only in Africa where it originates, but around the world. In humans, the virus produces severe symptoms such as bleeding from the eyes, nose and mouth, loss of consciousness, seizures and eventual death. With no known cure, governments must rely on prevention and control strategies to contain new outbreaks.

But in a new study, scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Spain’s Universidad de Malaga and other partner institutions have uncovered a vital piece of the Ebola puzzle — when and where outbreaks can occur.

Timing is everything

"Since Ebola is transmitted to humans from wild animals, we were initially very interested in the link between the virus and bushmeat practices,” says Professor John E. Fa, a Senior Associate at CIFOR and a Professor at the UK’s Manchester Metropolitan University.

“This led us to the next question: what conditions on the ground are there to encourage this virus to flourish and infect people?” says Fa.

The team — made up of practitioners, landscape ecologists and modellers, the latter led by Dr.

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