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Climate crisis has helped spread over half of human diseases – including Zika and cholera

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Flooding like the kind seen here in Lost Creek, Kentucky, last month, can assist the spread of disease. Photo: Ryan C Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP

Flooding like the kind seen here in Lost Creek, Kentucky, last month, can assist the spread of disease. Photo: Ryan C Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP

Flooding like the kind seen here in Lost Creek, Kentucky, last month, can assist the spread of disease. Photo: Ryan C Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP

In 2016, a community in a remote corner of northern Siberia started to get sick.

Dozens of people, and thousands of reindeer, had developed anthrax, a bacterial disease that can cause fever, swelling and vomiting.

One child died, as well as at least 2,000 reindeer.

The cause is believed to be the climate crisis.

Scientists think that extraordinarily high temperatures that summer thawed out a frozen reindeer carcass that died from anthrax decades before – releasing dormant spores back into the air with tragic consequences.

It’s not the only time the climate crisis may have led to people contracting illness.

A new study has found that 58pc of human infectious diseases have been helped along by climate-related disasters, from bacteria like anthrax to viruses like Zika and parasites like malaria.

The results highlight some of the secondary consequences of climate disasters as floods, storms and droughts push people into contact with disease.

The magnitude of the climate impact on disease means this problem may only be fixed by attacking it at source, author Camilo Mora, a geographer at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, said.

“We need to forget about the idea of adapting to climate change,” Dr Mora said. “We need to move, right away, to reduce emission of greenhouse gases.”

To do this research, the team gathered information from hundreds of research papers that documented the connection between a climate hazard and a disease.


Results were published yesterday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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Some connections are rather straightforward. For example, flooding can lead to cases of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease, contracted when people wade through infected waters.

But flooding can also lead to long-term standing water, which provides fertile habitat for mosquitoes and spurs associated diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and malaria. (© Independent News Service)


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