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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


  • Media Release: IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) Invasive Alien Species Assessment

    • Sep 4, 2023
    • Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

    • A new scientific report, Summary for Policymakers of the Thematic Assessment Report on Invasive Alien Species and their Control of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, offers the most exhaustive look yet at how nonnative plants and animals can drive extinctions, disrupt food systems and harm human health. The report was compiled by 86 experts from 49 countries, who drew on thousands of scientific studies and contributions from Indigenous people and local communities. Key points:

      • Invasive Alien Species Pose Major Global Threats to Nature, Economies, Food Security and Human Health
      • Key Role in 60% of Global Plant & Animal Extinctions
      • Annual Costs Now >$423 Billion – Have Quadrupled Every Decade Since 1970
      • Report Provides Evidence, Tools & Options to Help Governments Achieve Ambitious New Global Goal on Invasive Alien Species
  • Invasive Species in Forests and Rangelands of the United States: Sectoral Impacts of Invasive Species in the United States and Approaches to Management

    • 2021
    • USDA. Forest Service.

    • Chapter 9 (pages 203-230) in  open access book; see related resource: Invasive Species in Forests and Rangelands of the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the United States Forest Sector

      Invasive species have a major effect on many sectors of the U.S. economy and on the well-being of its citizens. Their presence impacts animal and human health, military readiness, urban vegetation and infrastructure, water, energy and transportations systems, and indigenous peoples in the United States. They alter bio-physical systems and cultural practices and require significant public and private expenditure for control. This chapter provides examples of the impacts to human systems and explains mechanisms of invasive species' establishment and spread within sectors of the U.S. economy.

      Citation: Marsh, Anne S.; Hayes, Deborah C.; Klein, Patrice N.; Zimmerman, Nicole; Dalsimer, Aliso; Burkett, Douglas A.; Huebner, Cynthia D.; Rabaglia, Robert; Meyerson, Laura A.; Harper-Lore, Bonnie L.; Davidson, Jamie L.; Emery, Marla R.; Warziniack, Travis; Flitcroft, Rebecca; Kerns, Becky K.; Lopez, Vanessa M. 2021. Sectoral Impacts of Invasive Species in the United States and Approaches to Management. In: Poland, Therese M.; Patel-Weynand, Toral; Finch, Deborah M.; Ford Miniat, Chelcy; Hayes, Deborah C.; Lopez, Vanessa M., eds. Invasive Species in Forests and Rangelands of the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the United States Forest Sector. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer International Publishing: 203 - 230. Chapter 9.

  • The Interface Between Invasive Species and the Increased Incidence of Tick-Borne Diseases, and the Implications for Federal Land Managers [PDF, 1 MB]

    • May 2019
    • National Invasive Species Council. Invasive Species Advisory Committee.

    • Although the scientific literature has relatively few publications on the subject, the expanding distribution of ticks and their associated disease-causing pathogens are increasingly shown to be facilitated by the presence of certain invasive plant species, particularly plant understory and transition-zone species. Invasive species have been found to contribute to the spread and survival of ticks, hosts, and various disease-causing pathogens. For those species that have been investigated, several invasive plant species such as Japanese honeysuckle and barberry have been definitively shown to harbor and enhance tick, host, and pathogen populations by enhancing microhabitat and survival. Additionally, non-native tick species such as Asian longhorn tick have been introduced and potentially new invasive tick-borne pathogens or hosts can, and likely will, be introduced in the future. For more publications, see ISAC White Papers.

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.