Climate change is making hundreds of diseases much worse –

by | Aug 12, 2022 | Climate Change

Floods, such as this one in Bangladesh, can increase the risk and severity of infectious diseases.Credit: Mamun Hossain/AFP/Getty

Climate change has exacerbated more than 200 infectious diseases and dozens of non-transmissible conditions, such as poisonous-snake bites, according to an analysis1. Climate hazards bring people and disease-causing organisms closer together, leading to a rise in cases. Global warming can also make some conditions more severe and affect how well people fight off infections.Most studies on the associations between climate change and disease have focused on specific pathogens, transmission methods or the effects of one type of extreme weather. Camilo Mora, a data scientist at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and his colleagues scoured the literature for evidence of how ten climate-change-induced hazards — including surging temperatures, sea level rise and droughts — have affected all documented infectious diseases (see ‘Climate hazards exacerbate diseases’). These include infections spread or triggered by bacteria, viruses, animals, fungi and plants (see ‘Mode of transmission’). The study was published in Nature Climate Change on 8 August.“Looking at basically all the climate effects and all the infectious pathogens in one paper is extremely ambitious,” says Josh Colston, an epidemiologist at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville. “They synthesize a tremendous amount of information very well.”

Source: Ref 1.

The study quantifies the many ways in which climate change affects human diseases, says Mora. “We are going to be under the constant umbrella of this serious threat for the rest of our lives,” he adds.Literature reviewMora and his colleagues examined more than 77,000 research papers, reports and books for records of infectious diseases influenced by climatic hazards that had been made worse by greenhouse-gas emissions. More than 90% of the relevant papers had been published after 2000. Ultimately, the team found 830 publications containing 3,213 case examples.The researchers discovered that climate change has aggravated 218, or 58%, of the 375 infectious diseases listed in …

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