Climate changes have a profound impact on the transmission patterns of infectious diseases. With rising temperatures, tropical diseases are spreading to temperate countries. Growing precipitation patterns make peaceful countries more susceptible to low-land diseases. Dengue fever, which caused severe outbreaks in only nine countries before the 1970s, is now endemic in more than 100. Similarly, melting permafrost makes countries more susceptible to respiratory infections, including influenza and syncytial virus.
Influence of climate change on vector-borne diseases
The climate impacts the distribution of various wildlife, including vectors that transmit certain diseases. Changing temperatures affect the survival and reproduction of certain insect species, and climate change may affect the development of certain conditions. Climate change has a significant impact on disease vectors because climate-induced changes to weather patterns may increase or decrease the incidence of certain diseases.
In addition, climate change may impact some ecosystems and reduce the effectiveness of elimination efforts of certain vector-borne diseases, including African human trypanosomiasis (HAT). For instance, a decrease in rainfall has led to the displacement of tsetse flies, which transmit HAT. In 2000, most HAT foci were found in Ghana, Liberia, and Ivory Coast.
Studies have suggested climate change can affect vector-borne diseases on a continental scale. Recent climate change studies have also shown that malaria transmission has increased in areas experiencing warmer temperatures.
Impact of climate change on respiratory infections
Increasing temperatures and a changing climate affect the occurrence of several respiratory infections, including influenza and colds. The increased temperature may also cause plants to produce more allergens, extending the pollen season. Increased humidity in buildings and air conditioning use are also contributing factors. Moreover, these changes may affect the spread of respiratory infections, particularly among those with pre-existing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. The effects of climate change on respiratory infections are likely to be even more significant in areas of greater poverty or with high migration rates.
Global warming affects various climate types differently, and the effects on different regions may vary. For example, sharp temperature drops in Australia have increased childhood pneumonia. Changing precipitation, temperature, and air pollution can all affect respiratory infections. One well-known example of climate-related changes in respiratory infections was the aspergillosis outbreak among tsunami survivors. In addition, changes in temperature and precipitation affect viral activity, air pollution, and air quality. Among other factors, changes in rainfall have been linked to a local increase in rodent populations.
The increased incidence of respiratory infection may be attributed to anthropogenic climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “Anthropogenic climate change is one of the leading causes of respiratory diseases worldwide.” The rising prevalence of respiratory diseases suggests a connection between air pollution and anthropogenic climate change. However, the impact of these changes is still unclear. A recent study reported that anthropogenic climate change was linked to an increase in the incidence of asthma in the United States, Europe, and Australia.
Increased greenhouse gas emissions have resulted in a deteriorating global climate. This change is associated with increased prevalence of respiratory disease, including asthma, and changes in the distribution and production of aeroallergens. Furthermore, increased air pollution and the westernized lifestyle are associated with increased respiratory allergies. Therefore, we must advocate for climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies to address these changes. Our collective efforts must reduce these health risks and ensure the planet’s overall health.
Impact of climate change on Aedes aegypti mosquitoes
Climate change and the Aedes Aegyptus are closely linked. While dengue vectors are not found in every country, most outbreaks occur in the Americas, Africa, and South-East Asia. They are primarily transmitted by female Aedes mosquitoes, which are highly anthropophilic and found in urban and peri-urban areas. Climate change and the increasing frequency of tropical diseases affect the two species.
Researchers have long suspected that elevated temperatures are associated with increased mosquito populations and disease outbreaks. The Aedes aegypti mosquito can spread disease in warm, rainy climates, but it cannot survive in colder climates. A new study suggests that the dengue mosquito will apply to new regions by 2080, putting 60% of the world’s population at risk.
Although climate change profoundly impacts all living things, it can also benefit mosquitoes. Warmer temperatures and increased hatch rates could increase mosquito populations, and a larger population means more mosquitoes, which may lead to the amplification of diseases. Therefore, the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses is rising, as it has on other animals.
Impact of climate change on ice and permafrost melt
The rising temperatures mean the ground does not remain frozen all winter long. In regions with permafrost, the land is only frozen at certain times of the year. But when the weather warms, this active layer thaws, exposing permafrost beneath the soil. Despite this, thawing permafrost can cause significant damage to buildings, roads, and infrastructure.
The melting of permafrost in the Arctic directly affects the region’s shorelines. Permafrost covers nine million square miles and is melting faster than anywhere else. Scientists estimate that Arctic coastlines now have 10% less frozen ground than in the early 1900s.
In addition to the loss of sea ice, permafrost melting also affects wildlife. In the Arctic, animals depend on sea ice for survival. As sea ice disappears, their habitats encroach on the community. Those creatures that live there seek refuge in the Arctic communities. As a result of a lack of ice, many diseases will emerge.
Researchers have found that permafrost contains approximately 1,700 billion tons of carbon, twice as much as the carbon in the atmosphere. During cold periods, permafrost does not decompose completely, but the plants begin to decay and die when it thaws. This is the first sign that the earth is experiencing a thaw.
Researchers have resurrected the Spanish flu from 1918 through the tundra in the Arctic. In addition, the thawing of permafrost in Alaska can release infectious diseases. In addition, scientists have warned of future pandemics due to people’s exposure to thawed pathogens.