Climate change causes a multitude of problems in societal, environmental and economic systems all around the world. One, however, that isn't talked about much but should be is its effects on the widening spread of diseases.
Infectious disease specialists are now concerned that climate change is contributing to the distribution of diseases such as cholera and diarrhea.
Experts from various institutions, universities and organizations came together to discuss this very issue. This group of experts is concerned that the rising temperatures caused by climate change are giving pathogens, especially ones in the water, a chance to spread out to territories that they did not once occupy.
The experts also observed that flooding due to the unstable weather pattern is followed by a spread of diseases such as cholera.
Disease In The Water
The group of bacteria in the Vibrio species is mostly responsible for diseases such as cholera and diarrhea. They live and thrive in seawater, and experts have observed a disturbing shift in their movement.
Due to the rising sea temperatures, the range of the sea where these pathogens thrive has widened, moving northward where they haven't been observed before. This leaves areas that were not particularly vulnerable to these diseases in the past now open to the possibility of the spread of such water-borne diseases.
Particularly vulnerable to these diseases are communities with little sanitation and no proper source of clean water supply, something climate change is exacerbating in various ways. Since climate change brings about erratic weather patterns that could lead to flooding, the people living in areas where the surrounding waters are swimming in bacteria are susceptible to disease outbreaks.
In fact, major El Nino occurrences have been linked to a cholera outbreak in Peru that claimed over 13,000 deaths, and the emergence of newly emerging water-borne pathogens which caused sickness from shellfish contamination.
With the temperatures rising in many parts of the globe, even disease-carrying insects are beginning to move farther up north when they usually remain in the warmer climate of the south. Because of this, diseases such as dengue and even Zika virus have been popping up in places they never have before.
If the trend continues, they could be joining Lyme disease as a prevalent insect-borne disease in the north. Though experts are confident that the United States can handle this change, the concern now lies in the ability of pathogens to quickly and constantly evolve.