Climate change affects both the emergence of new infectious diseases and their transmission potential, is the conclusion of a study published in the scientific journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the impact of climate change on the emergence of pandemics.
The Doctors of the Therapeutic Clinic of the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Theodora Psaltopoulou, Rodanthi Eleni Syrigou, Yannis Danasis and Thanos Dimopoulos (Chancellor EKPA) summarize the data of the study, according to which, the possibility of a new pandemic similar to the Covid-19 will triple in the coming decades.
The likelihood of a new pandemic will increase due to climate change, says William Pan, professor of global environmental health at Duke University. Data from the last 400 years were studied to calculate the probability of new epidemics by calculating deaths, the duration of previous epidemics and the rates of occurrence of new infectious diseases. The incidence of epidemics varies by time period but the occurrence of a large epidemic with pandemic potential can be calculated. The latest data shows that diseases that pass from animals to humans (zoonoses) are becoming more common due to climate change. In diseases like COVID-19, animals are the reservoir of infectious bacteria and viruses like SARS-CoV-2, which means that the virus or bacteria can mutate and multiply in the animal’s body and then be transmitted either directly through contact or indirectly through soil, water and surfaces. Climate change increases the ability of viruses to infect the human body more easily.
Apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, another example is the re-emergence of the Ebola virus in Africa in recent years including this year. There is evidence that the destruction of forests in Africa to create palm oil and the migration of bats that lived in those areas increased the transmissibility of Ebola. Infectious zoonoses account for 60% of all diseases and 75% of new emerging diseases based on data from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC). All population groups are likely to get sick, with children under 5 years of age, adults over 65, pregnant women and the immunocompromised being more vulnerable.
As infectious diseases increase, the scientific community tries to develop new diagnostic methods, treatments as well as vaccines. Unfortunately this happens after the disease has been transmitted due to the minimal data before it started. For this reason, the scientists report, investment is necessary to develop new monitoring systems to prevent viral infections, especially in underdeveloped areas.
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