Understanding the connection between climate change and infectious disease

Understanding the connection between climate change and infectious disease

The world will be forever grateful to the brilliant minds who worked day and night to develop an effective vaccine to prevent the infectious disease known as coronavirus. In record time, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson discovered a solution that would ultimately save millions of lives. Although the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines has played an important role in the world’s ability to return to normalcy, scientists and medical experts are concerned that infectious diseases will soon become more prominent.

The earth is warming

Scientists, environmental experts and advocates have been talking about climate change and its impact on human life for decades. Unfortunately, many politicians and citizens ignored their cries, believing that global warming didn’t exist or wasn’t something they had to worry about in their lifetimes.

Fast forward to today, and you can’t help but notice the impact of climate change. Temperatures are higher than average, storms are more frequent and severe, and agricultural productivity is fading. At the top of the list of problems, however, is the increase in infectious diseases.

Climate Change and Infectious Diseases

While advanced technologies allow experts to improve their efforts in developing antibodies and other preventive measures, the correlation between climate change and infectious diseases must be addressed. Let’s take a deeper look at this connection.

Changes in climate increase the spread of disease

Climate affects the way infectious diseases are transmitted globally in several ways. For starters, some viruses only thrive in certain conditions. Take dengue fever, for example. This contagious disease tends to thrive best in tropical or subtropical climates. Be that as it may, as temperatures rise in otherwise cooler parts of the world, this virus can spread more rapidly.

Another factor to consider is the migration of people as climate change devastates their homes. As more people move, larger populations grow in other areas. These mass migrations not only result in increased pressure on the ecosystem, but also increase the likelihood that people will bring infectious diseases with them.

Finally, increased migration and natural disasters such as wildfires minimize space for wildlife. With nowhere to go, animals and humans come into contact more often than usual. As many viruses are transmitted between animals and humans, the likelihood of another pandemic increases.
Air pollutants serve as vehicles for viral transmission

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, scientists found that regions with the worst air pollution appeared to have the largest outbreaks. Environmental toxins such as black carbon and sulfates are prevalent and known to cause substantial damage to the immune system. Further research revealed that these particles serve as vehicles for viruses, causing them to spread faster and significantly affect infected individuals.

Rising temperatures threaten the return of old diseases

Did you know that viruses, bacteria and diseases can last for years if frozen? Ice provides the perfect environment for preservation. However, if this ice were to melt, it could be a catastrophe for the world. Diseases that were once eradicated will return, causing an increase in infections and panic around the world. Unfortunately, rising temperatures in some of the world’s coldest climates are causing the ice to melt.

Climate change leads to mutations and weakened defense mechanisms.

Last but not least, experts fear that rising temperatures will lead to viral mutations that the human body cannot fight. As pathogens and viruses mutate to thrive in warmer temperatures, new diseases are expected to develop that are stronger and more difficult to treat. This adaptation will also mean that the body’s primary defenses for fighting diseases such as fever will no longer be effective.

It is amazing what modern advances have enabled medical and scientific experts to do in the midst of one of the world’s most prolific health crises in decades. Be that as it may, if world leaders and ordinary citizens do not begin to make changes to preserve the environment and manage climate change, the future could prove catastrophic. Hopefully, gaining a better understanding of the connection between climate change and infectious diseases will encourage you to do your part to make a change.