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The Effects Of Climate Change On Human Health (Virus Perspective)

Climate change has always been looked at as a planetary issue – something that threatens the way we live. But it is also a health issue. Viruses, bacteria, coronas and other infectious diseases are all affected by the climate. The change in the planet has forced us to look at life as a whole. New diseases are becoming more prevalent, as well as existing diseases re-emerging. Let’s take a look at how this is happening.

Impacts on diseases (in general)

We are still trying our best to understand new weather patterns brought about by climate change. Innovative companies such as ACLIV are moving with the times to ensure that we can protect us as a species even when our environment alters significantly. Changes to the climate and the resultant effects on livestock and deforestation are a major concern.

Impact of warmer and wetter climates

Mosquitoes carry a huge number of infectious diseases that threaten the health of mankind probably more than any other single source. Warmth and moisture are perfect breeding grounds for these insects. And warner climates promote the growth of other insects such as the Lyme-disease-carrying black legged tick. These are increasing at an alarming rate.

Impact of warmer oceans

Toxic algae blooms, known as red tides, have become much more commonplace in warmer oceans. In addition to this, zooplankton have been pushed closer and closer to the coasts due to altered currents. These carry high levels of cholera bacteria, which can infect the water supply quickly and with devastating effects.

Impacts on infectious diseases

Malaria

More than 300,000 children under the age of five die from malaria each year. And this problem is only getting bigger. Climate change models have shown that we will face a 5% to 15% rise in malaria cases due to climate conditions alone. Mosquitoes reproduce, develop and feed much more quickly in warmer conditions. And their range is expanding all the time.

Coronavirus disease

A zoonotic disease, which means it is passed from animals to people, coronavirus has affected all our lives over the last few years. It is now estimated that three quarters of all new diseases are zoonotic. And they are caused because man and animal are living closer and closer to each other as we destroy the natural habitat of many species. ACLIV is actively looking into how they can help stop the spread of zoonotic diseases, alongside many other innovative companies.

Dengue fever

This is prevalent in tropical regions of the planet, one of the infectious diseases transmitted by the mosquito. In the period from 1955 to 2007, reported cases rose from one thousand to one million. The particular mosquito that transmits this fever thrives in warm and wet conditions. The geographic range of these creatures is expanding daily.

Health impacts due to extreme weather events

Inextricably linked to climate change are extreme weather events. These rob people of the very infrastructure that is needed when health issues occur. For example, the tsunami in Japan was particularly devastating because there was nowhere to take the injured and dying. All of the medical facilities had been wiped out along with the rest of the infrastructure of the area.

As weather conditions are more varied and less easy to predict, these extreme weather events become more widespread. And this makes managing health in these conditions much more difficult. These extreme weather events include -

  • Floods
  • Drought
  • Air Pollution
  • Hurricanes & Thunderstorms
  • Heatwaves
  • Wildfires
  • Glacial melting

Devastated landscapes and reduced medical facilities are all factors in higher disease incidence and reduced healthcare capacity. This is where viruses, bacteria and infectious diseases are transmitted with higher frequency.

Impacts on mental health

An often underlooked facet of climate change is the impact it has on our mental health. Studies are still in their infancy, but there is a significant detrimental impact on our mental wellbeing. Direct and indirect exposure to the trauma of major weather events causes us to worry more, increasing the incidence of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Through developing innovative solutions, we at ACLIV hope to help people alleviate this stress and live happier lives.

Other impacts related to health

Biodiversity and medicinal plants

The biodiversity of the planet is vitally important in many facets. It is estimated that 70% to 80% of individuals rely on plant-based medicine as their primary healthcare method. As we lose more of the plants on the planet, we reduce this source. Communities that have passed on local knowledge regarding the kind of plants that will help ailments are finding these plants unavailable. As this happens, we lose the connection between the people and the land. And the big pharmaceutical companies fill the void.

Drinking water and water resources

Estimates indicate that around 80% of illness in the developing world can be linked to contaminated drinking water. As the climate changes and drought becomes more likely, we are exposed to lower oxygen levels in water and a resultant spike in algae blooms as well as increased microorganisms in the water supply. In addition, the supply of freshwater for drinking and agriculture is diminished, causing health issues.

What Does The Future Look Like?

Reading this article, you may feel that we have a bleak future. Infectious diseases, corona viruses, other viruses and bacteria are increasing as a direct result of climate change, and as an indirect result too. But this is where scientific knowledge helps us create a future that is safer for all.

Innovative research from scientists is dealing with the effects of climate change on our health. As we understand more, the options to boost the health of the population become more varied. At ACLIV, we look at solutions that help people live their everyday lives with more chances of staying safe. Get in touch if you’d like to know more about what we do.

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