Climate change presents a significant risk to natural ecosystems and human societies worldwide. Several regions across the world are already experiencing weather disruptions such as flooding, droughts and extreme cold that are impacting human lives and established ecosystems in a myriad of ways.
Experts in the United Kingdom believe that climate change may also result in an increase in the proliferation of potentially deadly infectious diseases caused by bacteria from America’s coastal region. As the climate continues to heat up from human industrial activity, the experts say that the number of infectious diseases along certain hot spots along the U.S. coast will go up.
For example, a bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus grows in shallow, warm coastal waters and is known to infect people who come into contact with seawater through cuts on their bodies or bites. According to researchers from the UK’s University of East Anglia (UEA), the U.S. East Coast has seen the number of infections from this bacteria increases from 10 to80 per year over a three-decade period. Cases of V. vulnificus infections have also been increasing further north every year, and now occur as far as Philadelphia even though such cases were quite scarce north of Georgia in the late 1980s.
Predictions from the researchers indicate that V. vulnificus may spread even farther to dense regions around New York by 2060. Yearly cases even double as the population becomes more elderly and becomes more vulnerable to V. vulnificus infection. Furthermore, the experts say that due to medium-to-high greenhouse gas emissions in the future, infections may occur in every Eastern American state by 2081-2100.
Although this may seem too cautious as the infection currently affects less than 100 people per year along the U.S. East Coast, it is fatal to one in five people who are infected. Furthermore, the cost of treating V. vulnificus Infections in America is higher than any other marine pathogen.
Once infected, the pathogens quickly spread through the body and start damaging the infected person’s flesh, causing the condition to be named a “flesh-eating” disease. Patients who survive the infection are often left with severe tissue damage and are even forced to amputate their limbs to survive.
Postgraduate researcher in UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences and lead study author Elizabeth Archer says the projected increase in infectious disease infections underscores the need for expanded awareness on an individual and public health level in the affected regions. This will allow authorities in these areas to take swift action when the first patients begin showing symptoms.
Efforts by for-profit entities such as BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) are underway to find novel remedies to several infectious illnesses. These treatments could reduce the health and economic impact of the spike in infections around the world.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/BVXV
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