Climate change and pandemics. Possible relationship. Future scenarios in an American research

Human health depends on the environment. A warning often repeated by experts, trying to make society understand how ongoing climate change is not just a matter of insider. Rather, a risk that is about to materialize for man. This is confirmed by a study published in the journal Nature, conducted by a group of researchers at Georgetown University: the first to show that rising temperatures on the planet could encourage the transmission of viruses between different species. This is the phenomenon known as “spillover” which is the basis of zoonoses, diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans. In fact, the same thing happened with Sars-CoV-2, at the beginning of the pandemic.

Towards the possibility of predicting a pandemic?

The study is of the modeling type: aimed at hypothesizing a future scenario, by 2070. In this case, the variation of the set of viruses that can be transmitted between mammals (virome). Researchers, based on what has happened in recent years, are convinced that a further rise in temperatures could cause more than 3,000 wild species to move to densely populated areas (more than 4.5 billion people in the world). world live in large nuclei). urban). Like Asian and African countries. But in reality, they do not rule out that this ecological transition is already underway. The biggest concern is bats, given their ability to fly long distances. And especially considering that – as in the case of coronavirus – they often represent the primary host of many infections. Also including several of those able to perform the “overflow” to man. According to the researchers, “it is urgent to have a control machine that, on the one hand, monitors the evolution of viruses and, on the other hand, takes into account changes in species, if we want to anticipate and prevent “The pandemic in the future, which is populated by individual sites.”

Zoonosis between past, present and future

The study suggests that climate change will become the biggest risk factor for the emergence of new diseases: overcoming deforestation, wildlife trade and industrial agriculture. “This mechanism adds another piece to how climate change will threaten human and animal health,” said Gregory Albery, lead co-author of the study and researcher in the Department of Biology at Georgetown University. It is unclear how these new viruses could affect the species involved, but it is likely that many of them will result in new conservation risks and fuel the emergence of new outbreaks in humans. Zoonoses are a natural phenomenon that the human species has lived with for millennia. However, the modern world, compared to the past, makes it even easier to transmit infectious diseases. Transportation technology and the daily flow of people traveling for economic and tourist reasons theoretically allow a pathogen to be transported from one end of the planet to the other in 24 hours. Other factors that make the modern world more at risk of infectious zoonoses are alterations in ecosystems and the expansion of urban or artificial areas. Air pollution also plays a role, making people on average more vulnerable to respiratory infections, in the case of zoonoses that spread through the air.

The other consequences of global warming

Prior to this study, the urgency to act in the face of the climate crisis was last reiterated in September, with a call published at the same time by more than two hundred scientific journals. An unprecedented position, but one that does not seem to have moved the civil conscience too much. Without immediate intervention, the risk is that “catastrophic events for human health could materialize,” the document says. Among the dangerous consequences of the rise in average temperature are dehydration (in the last twenty years heat mortality has increased by more than 50 percent, among those over 65), kidney failure, tropical infections, complications in pregnancy, allergies, respiratory and cardiovascular. diseases. The most affected are the sick, children and the elderly, especially in the poorest communities or ethnic minority groups.

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