Climate Change is Making Infectious Diseases More Dangerous and Widespread

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Studies show that climate change is making infectious diseases more dangerous and widespread. Medical associations such as the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the American Medical Society have called attention to the impact of global warming on viruses, bacteria and fungal infections. Climate change impacts infections in a variety of ways.

Infections Originating in Water

More frequent and severe rainstorms overload wastewater treatment facilities, causing contaminants to leak into to the water supply. Direct contact with floodwater also puts people at risk of infection. The majority of water-borne infections occur right after a flooding event. Soaring temperatures may also cause more people to visit pools, lakes and oceans, raising the chances that they encounter the harmful microbes living there. Warmer temperatures promote the growth of many viruses, bacteria and parasites. For example, new cases of V. vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus have surged by over 80% in the past three decades. In addition to climate change, factors such as urban growth, global travel and dwindling public health resources have contributed to the worsening of infectious diseases.

Infections Linked to Insects

Warming climates have already helped bring about a rise in infections from mosquitos, such as Malaria, Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, and West Nile virus. Mosquitos thrive in wet environments, and more rainfall events have led to a mosquito population boom. Milder winters and extended summer temperatures have may also be allowing ticks, and the diseases they carry, to spread. From 2011 to 2019, tick-borne illnesses rose by 25%. Lyme disease cases spiked by 44%.

Full Story: IDSE