Climate Change Can Exacerbate Almost 60% of Human Infectious Diseases

Medscape Staff

September 09, 2022

The emission of greenhouse gases is intensifying numerous climatic hazards of the Earth's climate system, which in turn can exacerbate almost 60% of human infectious diseases, according to scientists at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

What to know:

  • Of the 375 known infectious pathogenic diseases that afflict humanity worldwide, 58% can be aggravated by climate change in more than a thousand different ways, including hazards such as warming, droughts, wildfires, extreme precipitation, floods, increases in sea levels, changes in land cover, and ocean biogeochemical change.

  • The threats to humans posed by limate change threats would bring pathogens into closer proximity to humans and would displace human populations, which in turn would bring people into closer contact with pathogens.

  • In addition to facilitating contact between people and pathogens, climate change is also enhancing many disease-causing organisms by extending their habitable range and allowing longer breeding periods.

  • Climate change is impeding humans' capacity to cope with pathogens by increasing physical challenges and disrupting sanitation and our medical infrastructure.

  • The extensive, ongoing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic underscore the importance of recognizing the threat to health resulting from greenhouse gas emissions and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally.

This is a summary of the article, “Over Half of Known Human Pathogenic Diseases Can Be Aggravated by Climate Change," published by Nature Climate Change on August 8, 2022. The full article can be found on nature.com.

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