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Human Health Impacts

Invasive species can negatively impact human health by infecting humans with new diseases, serving as vectors for existing diseases, or causing wounds through bites, stings, allergens, or other toxins (Mazza et al. 2013).  For instance, the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), often considered the most invasive mosquito in the world, serves as a vector for many diseases, including West Nile Virus and Dengue fever (Benedict et al. 2007).

Other examples include the Africanized honey bee (Apis mellifera scutellata), which demonstrates more aggressive behavior than the European honey bee and has been known to attack humans and domestic animals in larger swarms and over longer distances (Ellis and Ellis 2008), and the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta), which can inflict extremely painful stings (Jemal and Hugh-Jones 1993).

See also: General Invasive Species Impacts


Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this subject, organized by source.

  • Invasive Species: The Threat to Human Health

    • Aug 8, 2018
    • CAB International. Blog.

    • The damage that invasive species can cause to the environment and the economy are well known, but impacts on human health have been much less analysed. However, invasive species can cause impacts ranging from psychological effects, phobias, discomfort and nuisance to allergies, poisoning, bites, disease and even death.

  • Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health

    • 2015
    • Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity; World Health Organization.

    • See in particular Chapter 3: Freshwater, Wetlands, Biodiversity and Human Health, section 5.1 "Aquatic Invasive Alien Species" and Chapter 7: Infectious Diseases, section 2.3.4 "Implications of Biotic Exchange (Invasive Alien Species)".

  • Biodiversity and Human Health Benefit from Invasive Species Removal

    • Jun 13, 2017
    • Island Conservation.

    • Restoring islands through the removal of non-native invasive mammals is a powerful biodiversity conservation tool. This new study now shows that human communities on islands could benefit from restoration actions, which can potentially reduce or eliminate the burden of diseases transmitted to people by invasive species. Simply put, removal of invasive species can benefit human health in addition to ecological health.