Study Shows Climate Change Impacts Infectious Disease Risks

European researchers have published a study associating climate change with the prevalence of infectious disease transmission. The continent-wide study analyzed the prevalence of viruses, bacteria and protozoans that have the potential to infect humans, domestic animals and bats in various climates.

The researchers found that rainfall and temperature could affect the prevalence of several potentially pathogenic microorganisms. They investigated more than 75 microbes from an estimated 40 bat and 400 bird species across the European continent and compared their prevalence to different climatic conditions.

Increased temperatures and extreme weather events often come to mind when most people think about the potential effects of climate change. However, more than two centuries of burning fossil fuels may have a wider range of consequences on the ecosystem than previously thought. The recent study uncovered evidence of changes in pathogenic microbe behavior in Europe over the past decade that could be due to climate change.

Yanjie Xu, the lead study author and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki’s Finnish Museum of Natural History, said the research team found a higher prevalence of pathogenic bacteria in dry and warm climates while pathogenic viruses were more prevalent in moist climates. Interestingly, the researchers found that rainfall had both a negative and positive association with pathogen prevalence, with increased rainfall raising the prevalence of salmonella bacteria and avian flu, Sindbis and Usutu viruses.

Finnish Museum Academy of History academy research fellow Thomas Lilley explains that rainfall increases the prevalence of Sindbis and Usutu, which are transmitted via mosquitoes, by boosting wetland development. He explained that salmonella and avian flu can also infect waterfowl in increased numbers when rainfall accelerates damp conditions in wetlands.

Arto Pulliainen, a professor at the University of Turku Institute of Biomedicine, notes that temperature also has a positive association with bacteria that cause salmonella, typhus in bats and birds, Q-fever and chlamydia. The research compiled findings from more than 700 research papers and close to half a million scientific observations and points to the increasingly popular idea that climate change can affect infectious disease susceptibility.

Climate change is already disrupting the distribution ranges of pathogenic microbes and their hosts, and researchers have noticed that birds are shifting their distribution ranges northwards by 0.6 miles every year. Changes in climate are also impacting the distribution of pathogenic microorganisms in environments such as water bodies.

The Finnish Museum of Natural History’s Aleksi Lehikoinen says that there is a chance climate change may have increased thermophilic pathogen populations in northern Europe.

Enterprises such as Scinai Immunotherapeutics Ltd. (NASDAQ: SCNI) are devoting considerable resources to developing immunotherapies targeting the growing threat posed by infectious diseases and autoimmune ailments. Such investments could help the world cope with the effects of climate change.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Scinai Immunotherapeutics Ltd. (NASDAQ: SCNI) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/SCNI

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