Does urbanization make emergence of zoonosis more likely? Evidence, myths and gaps

Rapid urbanization in the global South is adding epidemiological and nutritional challenges and increasing disease and health burdens for citizens. Greater movement of people, animals, food and trade often provides favourable grounds for the emergence of infectious diseases, including zoonoses. We conduct a rapid evidence scan to explore what is known and hypothesized about the links between urbanization and zoonosis emergence. This points to rapid demographic growth, migration and density, increased movement of people and animals, and changes in land uses as the main processes linked to the prevalence of zoonosis in the urban global South. We argue that this emerging global health challenge is also deeply connected with the urbanization of poverty and inequalities within cities. Tackling the micro-level causal relationships between urbanization and zoonosis requires urgent attention to living conditions, as well as the wider socioenvironmental transitions and structural drivers that produce and reproduce risk accumulation in urban settings.