Pathogenic Diseases Exacerbated by Climate Change; Study

The deadliest animal in the world is smaller than a pencil eraser and weighs around two-thousandths of a gram — less than the weight of a single raindrop. Every year, it kills an estimated 700,000 people by partaking in what scientists grimly call a “blood meal.” Mosquitoes do not kill the way a shark or a lion does. Instead, they are “vectors” for many painful and life-threatening diseases, from dengue fever to malaria to chikungunya. When a mosquito “bites” someone, by stabbing a needle-filled proboscis deep into a blood vessel — it both sucks out blood and leaves some of its own saliva behind.

Climate Change has already driven the severity and frequency of climate hazards like flooding, heat waves and wild fires, which has only brought a large number of organisms in close contact with human beings. A group of researchers shows that climate change increases the risk of pathogenic diseases, which can lead to severe outbreaks in the future.

The study published in Nature Climate Change also identified more than 1,000 ways in which climate hazards can result in a disease outbreak. In the study, the researchers said, “The sheer number of pathogenic diseases and transmission pathways aggravated by climatic hazards reveals the magnitude of the human health threat posed by climate change and the urgent need for aggressive actions to mitigate GHG emissions.”


They also said that 277 human pathogenic diseases can be aggravated by the broad array of climatic hazards triggered by our ongoing emission of GHGs and include 58% of all infectious diseases known to have impacted humanity in recorded history.

The researchers also mentioned how storms and floods caused displacements that bring humans into close contact with water-borne pathogens, like cholera. Fires and droughts. Moreover, these could push wild animals looking for shelter, water or food right into the neighbourhood and houses, carrying their diseases with them, said the researchers from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Warming temperatures and precipitation can expand the range of a pathogen, extending the risks of bug-borne diseases like Lyme disease, dengue or malaria. Heat waves additionally increase the contact with water as one attempt to keep cool. Similar processes also occur in the sea. In a warming ocean, for example, harmful algal blooms and diseases are much more common.


The researchers also stated that as permafrost melts, ancient pathogens preserved in the icy Arctic could find their way into hosts who lack the immunity to deal with them. 

They also found that 58 per cent of the 375 human pathogens analysed had aggravated by climate hazards at some point in recorded history. As such, they concluded that 277 known diseases should be watched for future outbreaks.

“The successful emergence of pathogens frozen in time could be regarded as a ‘Pandora’s box’, given the potentially large pool of pathogens accumulated over time and the extent to which these pathogens may be new to people,” the authors of said.

They also noted the possibility that some pathogens would gain strength by climate change. In a warming world, the life cycle of an infectious disease could very well accelerate, allowing for greater reproduction in a shorter space of time. If that pathogen spreads better in summer, then as the season expands, the risk of infection will also stick around for longer, they added.

They also warned that climate change is making humans sicker. Allergies, skin disease, dehydration, and pregnancy complications are all associated with climate hazards, like heat waves, storms, or droughts. It is unclear how the human body will cope if infectious disease outbreaks become more common in the future. As our immune system’s defenses fall, our enemies seem to be strengthening,


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