Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

CABI Book Chapter

Invasive species and human health.

Book cover for Invasive species and human health.


This book, which consists of 11 chapters, highlights the major impact of invasive alien plants and animals on human health. This includes not only direct effects through contact with the species via bites, wounds and disease, but also indirect effects caused by changes induced in ecosystems by invasive species, such as more water hyacinth increasing mosquito levels and thereby the potential for ma...

Chapter 10 (Page no: 130)

Impact of alien mammals on human health.

We provide an overview of the impact of wild invasive alien mammals on human health, focusing specifically on species acting as zoonotic hosts or pathogens, along with the diseases and mechanisms of disease transmission associated with mammals in terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. We checked for published data on the impact on human health for 129 alien invasive mammals, reported in 123 different countries. The highest number of invasive alien mammals causing impacts on human health is reported in Japan (31 species), followed by Australia (24) and Argentina, New Zealand and Cuba (19). However, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, the Bahamas and the Czech Republic are characterized by the highest proportions of alien mammals impacting human health of the total number of invasive mammals reported in the country (range from 93% to 96%). Carnivores are the taxonomic group with the highest numbers of alien species impacting on human health, followed by ungulates and rodents. Our review highlights the important role of alien mammals in threatening human health and welfare, particularly through the transmission of zoonoses. Alien mammals can act as vectors of both alien and native pathogens, and as hosts of either native or alien parasites (which in turn can act as vectors of either native or alien pathogens). In this way, alien mammals can introduce new pathogens, alter the epidemiology of local pathogens, become reservoir hosts and increase disease risk for humans, along with other species. The increasing movements of humans and other species because of climate change and other factors could result in the sudden emergence of disease outbreaks, including new diseases and in new locations. This shows the urgent need for a better understanding of the parasite-vector-host trio and the environmental, climatic and socio-economic factors involved, as well as the large potential for future zoonotic emergence.

Other chapters from this book

Chapter: 1 (Page no: 1) Poisonous and venomous: marine alien species in the Mediterranean Sea and human health. Author(s): Galil, B.
Chapter: 2 (Page no: 16) Invasive alien plant impacts on human health and well-being. Author(s): Lazzaro, L., Essl, F., Lugliè, A., Padedda, B. M., Pyšek, P., Brundu, G.
Chapter: 3 (Page no: 34) Human health impact by alien spiders and scorpions. Author(s): Nentwig, W.
Chapter: 4 (Page no: 49) Ticks and dust mites: invasive and health-affecting borderline organisms. Author(s): Simoni, S., Grandi, G.
Chapter: 5 (Page no: 63) Bugs, ants, wasps, moths and other insect species. Author(s): Roques, A., Preda, C., Augustin, S., Auger-Rozenberg, M. A.
Chapter: 6 (Page no: 76) The invasive mosquitoes of medical importance. Author(s): Romi, R., Boccolini, D., Luca, M. di, Medlock, J. M., Schaffner, F., Severini, F., Toma, L.
Chapter: 7 (Page no: 91) Invasive freshwater invertebrates and fishes: impacts on human health. Author(s): Souty-Grosset, C., Anastácio, P., Reynolds, J., Tricarico, E.
Chapter: 8 (Page no: 108) Risks for human health related to invasive alien reptiles and amphibians. Author(s): Pauwels, O. S. G., Pantchev, N.
Chapter: 9 (Page no: 120) Do alien free-ranging birds affect human health? A global summary of known zoonoses. Author(s): Mori, E., Meini, S., Strubbe, D., Ancillotto, L., Sposimo, P., Menchetti, M.
Chapter: 11 (Page no: 151) Climate change and increase of impacts on human health by alien species. Author(s): Schindler, S., Rabitsch, W., Essl, F.