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Study finds climate hazards could exacerbate more than half of known human infections




Recent Articles Submitted to Journals nature climate change showed that climate change could exacerbate about 50% of recognized human pathogenic diseases.

Research: More than half of known human pathogenic diseases could be exacerbated by climate change.Image Credit: Cep Photo
study: More than half of known human pathogenic diseases could be exacerbated by climate changeImage Credit: Cep Photo


Continued emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) are increasing several climate risks, resulting in exacerbation of human pathogenic diseases. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic amply illustrates the social upheaval wrought by the infectious disease, and the possible consequences of the imminent health crisis wrought by climate change. are sounding the alarm about

Although it is well established that climate change affects pathogenic diseases, the extent of human susceptibility to pathogenic diseases affected by climate change is not fully known. Due to the lack of outliers, previous studies on the relationship between climate hazards and human pathogenic diseases have typically been limited to specific types of pathogens (such as bacteria and viruses) and climate hazards (such as warming, rainfall, and flooding). , or mode of transmission (vector, food, waterborne). Therefore, due to the inability to combine the available information, the full threat to humans posed by climate change related pathogenic diseases cannot be measured.

About research

In this study, researchers systematically searched for empirical evidence of the effects of ten GHG emission-sensitive climate changes on each of the recognized human pathogenic diseases. The 10 GHG-sensitive climate hazards analyzed in this study were drought, warming, wildfires, heatwaves, floods, precipitation, sea level rise, storms, land cover change, and ocean climate change.

The team conducted three interdependent literature searches to identify case reports of pathogenic diseases affected by climate disasters. The initial search conducted a separate study for each combination of the term ‘disease’ and each of the 10 climate hazards identified as sensitive to GHG emissions. In a second search, the researcher independently searched scientific articles that combined each disease name from her two authoritative databases on infectious diseases with each of his 10 climate hazards.

The authors then ran additional queries for combinations of disease and climate risk for which the previous two searches did not provide case instances. First, I created a table with all the diseases identified in searches 1 and 2 as rows and each climate risk as a column. Additionally, the team used pathogen and disease aliases in his third search. Additionally, we used Google Scholar for all queries.


The authors found 3,213 empirical cases in which climate hazards are associated with pathogenic diseases. These cases were associated with 286 different pathogenic diseases, 277 of which had at least one climate risk exacerbating them. Some climate hazards reduced 63 diseases, 54 of which were occasionally exacerbated by other climate risks. In fact, only nine pathogenic diseases were reduced by climate disasters.

Scientists have documented diseases exacerbated by climate disasters. A range of pathogenic diseases exacerbated by climate hazards account for 58% of all identified infectious diseases affecting humanity globally. Specifically, climate disasters exacerbate 218 of the authoritative list of 375 pathogenic diseases noted to have affected humans.

The team identified 1,006 different pathways through which climate hazards led to outbreaks of pathogenic diseases through various routes of transmission. They found 76, 69, 45, 24, 23, 12, and 9 diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, animals, fungi, protozoa, plants, and chromists, respectively, caused by global warming, precipitation, floods, droughts, and storms. , noted that it was influenced by land. They cover 160, 122, 121, 81, 71, 61, 43, 21, 20, and 10 endemic disease-related changes, marine climate change, fires, heat waves, and sea level rise, respectively.

Vectors spread mainly pathogenic diseases, namely 103 different diseases. However, researchers also found 78, 60, 56, and 50 unique disease cases for waterborne, airborne, direct contact, and foodborne transmission routes, respectively. Among all cases of pathogenic diseases adversely affected by climate hazards, there were 19 common disease names (such as gastrointestinal infections) for which data on causative agents were lacking. Furthermore, there were no details regarding the transmission mechanisms of 116 diseases.


Overall, in the current study, the team found that climate hazards exacerbate 58% (or 218 out of 375) of infections experienced by humans worldwide at any given time. On the other hand, it reduced 16% of pathogenic diseases at times. Empirical cases have demonstrated 1,006 different ways that climate risks can lead to pathogenic diseases via various transmission methods.

In particular, climate risks are exacerbating too many human pathogenic diseases and modes of transmission, exceeding the capacity of societal adaptations, and underscoring the urgent need to address the root causes of the problem of reducing GHG emissions. I am emphasizing.




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