Climate Change Increases Dangerous Waterborne Bacteria 2023

Experts on climate have long warned of the several ways in which rising temperatures might significantly impact human health. Considering that it is expected that global temperatures will rise by 1.5°C by the 2030s, this risk is becoming more imminent.

According to the findings of a recent study, one long-held prediction that looks to be coming true is that climate change might increase the concentrations of bacteria that flourish and spread across warm U.S. seas and trigger a particularly lethal sickness.

Climate Change Is Fueling an Increase in Dangerous Waterborne Bacteria

In a paper published in Nature Scientific Reports, researchers from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom analyzed infections reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1988 and 2018 that were caused by Vibrio vulnificus, a type of bacteria that thrives in sea or brackish waters warmer than 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Vibrio vulnificus kills roughly 20% of healthy individuals and 50% of those with compromised immune systems whom it infects in the United States, despite being uncommon (for now).

Humans can become infected by consuming raw shellfish, such as oysters, or by exposing minor cuts or wounds to waters containing the bacterium; eating contaminated shellfish can induce diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and chills, while infected wounds can lead to severe skin diseases. Although there is no solid proof that antibiotics can manage the illness, doctors may prescribe them in some circumstances.

As it is easier to target wound-based infections, this is where the researchers concentrated their efforts. Then, they developed models that forecast the trend of new infections over the following decades. One model envisaged a more sustainable trajectory in which emissions would be relatively low and global temperatures would rise at a slower rate. Another scenario assumed that reducing emissions and combating global warming were low priority for governments throughout the world.

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