Bacterial Infection Linked To Climate Change

By Amir Khan on July 23, 2012 3:06 PM EDT

An outbreak of gastroenteritis Northern Europe is being caused by manmade climate change, according to a new study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Researchers said the warming of the Baltic Sea is offering the bacteria vibrio to thrive -- the first evidence of manmade climate change coinciding with the emergence of a bacterial infection.

Vibrios is a group of bacteria that typically grows in warm and tropical environments. It can cause a variety of illnesses in humans, ranging from gastroenteritis to cholera, according to the study.

Like Us on Facebook

Researchers found that the number of infections from vibrio peaks with higher sea surface temperatures. Every year the sea surface temperature rose 1 degree, the number of vibrio infections rose nearly 200 percent.

"The big apparent increases that we've seen in cases during heatwave years tend to indicate that climate change is indeed driving infections," Craig Baker-Austin, study coauthor and researcher at the UK-based Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, told Reuters.

The Baltic Sea is an ideal place to study the effects of climate change on bacteria because its warming at a faster rate than almost anywhere else on the planet. Studies show the average rise in surface temperatures to be .17 degrees Celsius every decade between 1980 and 2010. However, the Baltic Sea increased approximately 6.3 degrees every decade over that same span.

"(It) represents, to our knowledge, the fastest warming marine ecosystem examined so far anywhere on Earth," researchers wrote in the study.

While becoming infection with vibrio is still uncommon, if climate change continues, the risk becomes exponentially greater, researchers said.

"Certainly the chances of getting a vibrio infection are considered to be relatively low, and more research is focused on areas where these diseases are endemic or at least more common," Baker-Austin said.

 Vibrio has also appeared in Chile, Peru, Israel, the northwest U.S. Pacific and northwest Spain - places that are all warming rapidly, researchers said.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Sponsored From Around the Web

    ZergNet
Follow iScience Times
us on facebook RSS
 
us on google
 
Most Popular
INSIDE iScience Times
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet  Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)