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New study highlights the need to study more the effects global warming is having on the proliferation of bacteria and infections

It seems obvious to anyone who has taken high-school biology: if you increase heat, bacteria will be happier, because heat means energy, and unless you're boiling them, bacteria will reproduce faster. In the varied ecosystems around the world, it's not as simple as that, but a new study points out that this may be exactly what is happening.

Of a recently compiled list of the top 30 bacterial infections in the world, several of them are spiking because of climate change, according to researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. In an article in the top medical journal in the world, these researchers call for more research to be done, across all continents and several years, in order to truly understand the extent to which global warming is driving bacterial infections to new records.

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The new article in the top medical journal in the world, The Lancet, highlights how leading bacterial infections are all increasing in part because of climate change. 

This is the first time that scientists make such a connection between the total list of top bacterial infections and the effects of climate change. Global warming causes droughts in many areas of the world, and as a result, people are forced to drink water from the same, remaining, few sources. If those sources are contaminated, epidemics of bacterial disease can flare up. This is often the case with salmonella and cholera.

Cholera has been found almost invariably after tropical storms and hurricanes disrupt the water sources of tropical and subtropical regions. When too much rain reaches communities that have few sources of water, those sources overflow or are contaminated by runoff from the storms, which often mix sewers or water contaminated by animal waste with drinking water. With 17% of the US population relying on private wells for their water—a number that is much higher in the developing world, including tropical countries—contamination of drinking and usable water is a clear and present danger to the public health of the entire world. Once an epidemic begins, it is very difficult to contain it, as COVID-19 showed us only too well. 


Water stressed areas around the world, according to the Pew Charitable Trust. These areas are more likely to experience droughts as well as extreme flooding events, both increasing the chance of bacterial infections.

Widespread flooding was the culprit in the greatest pandemic in human history, the Spanish Flu, as Harvard and Climate Change Institute researchers proved in 2020. Water contaminated by birds carrying the H1N1 virus flowed into the trenches where millions of European men were fighting World War 1. As the war ended, and those troops returned home, they brought the flu with them. One third of the world was infected and 5% of the total population died.

As flooding is affecting the Southwestern United States, as well as the South East every year, and as drought alternates with the flooding, the conditions are prime for bacterial contamination of drinking water. 

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