Climate change and the risk of contracting diseases

Climate change can increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases. As temperatures rise and precipitation patterns change, favorable conditions can be created for the spread of certain pathogens.

Recently, a European study was conducted that examined the presence of protozoa, bacteria and viruses that can be harmful to humans and domestic animals in birds and bats under different climatic conditions. A connection has been found between the prevalence of many of these pathogens and factors such as temperature or rainfall. This finding provides valuable information about how climate can influence the spread of diseases transmitted by these species.

A new study collected data on the presence of more than 75 pathogenic microbes in Europe. To obtain this detailed information, almost 400 species of birds and 40 bats were analyzed. When analyzing the information on the occurrence of pathogens, it was found that their occurrence is closely related to climatic factors such as temperature and precipitation.

In general, the occurrence of pathogenic bacteria increased in areas with hot and dry climates. Pathogenic viruses, on the other hand, prefer humid weather.said lead author Yanjie Xu from the Finnish Museum of Natural History at the University of Helsinki.

Climatic and pathogenic factors

Studies on the connection between climate factors and pathogens were carried out in the 17 pathogen taxa with the largest amount of data. The observed relationships may vary depending on the case.

Temperature has been positively associated with the emergence of the avian influenza virus, the malaria parasite and the bacteria that cause chlamydia, salmonella, Q fever and typhoid fever in birds and bats.“explains University Professor Arto Pulliainen from the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Turku.

Precipitation can have both positive and negative effects on the occurrence of pathogens. On the one hand, increased rainfall can increase the likelihood of the emergence of viruses such as Usutu, Sindbis and bird flu, as well as salmonella bacteria.

Usutu and Sindbis viruses are transmitted by mosquitoes, and rainfall can increase the occurrence of wetlands favored by mosquitoes. Avian influenza and salmonella are also common, particularly in waterfowl, for which wetlands are also important.“says academy researcher Thomas Lilley from the Finnish Museum of Natural History.

The risk of contracting infectious diseases

A recent study compiled the results of more than 700 research papers and nearly half a million observations to examine the impact of climate change on infectious disease risk. The results reinforce the notion that climate change may have significant impacts in this regard, potentially altering the risk and spread of infectious diseases. There is evidence that climate change is affecting the spread of pathogens and wildlife such as birds. Studies suggest that birds are shifting their range northward at a rate of more than a kilometer per year. This phenomenon is a direct result of the effects of climate change on our ecosystem.

Climate change impacts the emergence of pathogens in various environments, including aquatic environments. Temperature fluctuations and precipitation patterns can affect the ecological balance and facilitate the reproduction and spread of new pathogens.

There is a possibility that, for example, thermophilic pathogens may become more common in northern Europe as a cause of climate change.says senior curator Aleksi Lehikoinen from the Finnish Museum of Natural History.

The study on climate change and the risk of contracting infectious diseases was published in Ecography, a respected scientific journal in the field. In addition, it was funded by a grant from the Climate Change and Health Research Program of the Academy of Finland. This program provided funding to a consortium composed of researchers from the University of Helsinki and the University of Turku.

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