How climate change can uncover new epidemics

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Paris: Long-dormant viruses brought back to life; Revival of deadly and disgusting smallpox; A dengue or Zika “season” in Europe.
Scientists say that this disaster may be the storyline of the film, but they are also a serious cause of severe and fast-spreading epidemics.
The COVID-19 epidemic that has blown the globe and claimed that more than 760,000 lives so far has almost certainly come from a wild bat, exposing the threat of humanity’s continued encroachment on the planet’s dwindling wild places.
But the expanding ecological footprint of our species can trigger epidemics in other ways as well.
Climate change – already wreaking havoc with one degree Celsius of warming – is also emerging as a driver of infectious disease, whether by expanding the footprint of malaria- and dengue-carrying mosquitoes, or Siberian Defrost prehistoric pathogens from parafrost.
“In my darkest moments, I see a very terrible future for Homo sapiens because we are an animal, and when we expand our boundaries,” said Birgitta Ivengaard, a clinical microbiology researcher at Umiya University, Sweden It will happen to us. ”
“Our biggest enemy is our own ignorance,” she said. “Nature is full of microorganisms.”
Think of Permafrost, a climate change time bomb spread across Russia, Canada and Alaska containing three times the carbon that has been emitted since the beginning of industrialization.
Even though humanity manages to cap global warming below two degrees Celsius, the PermitFrost region, a cornerstone target of the 2015 Paris Agreement, will be reduced by 2100, according to the IPCC, the UN climate science panel.
And then there are the hidden treasures of Perfrost.
“Microorganisms can survive in frozen space for long periods of time,” said Vladimir Romanowski, a professor of geophysics at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
At the ground level, once frozen soil particles, organic matter, and microorganisms that had been sealed for millennia are transported to the surface by the flow of water, he explained.
“Melting in this way can spread these microorganisms into the current environment.”
There are already examples of ancient, long-frozen insects coming to life.
“When you put a seed in the soil that has been frozen for thousands of years, nothing happens,” said Jean-Michel Claverie, an emerging professor of genomics at the Aix-Marseille University School of Medicine in France.
“But when you heat the earth, the seed will sprout,” he said. “This is what happens with viruses.”
Cleveri’s lab has successfully revived Siberian viruses that are at least 30,000 years old.
These renaissance insects only attack amoebae, but tens of thousands of years ago there were certainly others that aimed at the food chain.
“Neanderthals, mammoths, woolly rhinoceros all became ill, and many died,” Claverie said. “Some of the causes of the virus that caused his diseases are probably still in the soil.”
The number of lean bacteria and viruses in the permafrost is incurable, but the more important question is how dangerous they are.
And here, scientists disagree.
“Anthrax suggests that bacteria can rest in the permafrost for hundreds of years and regenerate,” Evengard said.
In 2016, a child died of an illness in Siberia, which had disappeared from the region at least 75 years earlier.
The case has long been attributed to the thawing of burial bodies, but some experts say that the animal in question may have been in shallow filth and may thus be subject to periodic thawing.
Other pathogens – such as smallpox or influenza strain, which killed millions in 1917 and 1918 – may also be present in the sub-Arctic region.
But they are “probably deactivated”, concluded a study published earlier this year by Romanowski.
However, for Claverie, the return of smallpox – officially erased 50 years ago – cannot be ruled out. Victims of the disease in 18- and 19th-century “burials in cemeteries in Siberia are fully protected from the cold,” he said.
In the unlikely event of a local pandemic, a vaccine is available.
The real danger, he said, is under deep stress, where unknown pathogens have not seen daylight for two million years or more.
If there were no hosts to infect the worms, there would be no problem, but climate change – indirectly – has also been intervened here.
“With the industrial exploitation of the Arctic, all are risk factors – pathogens and people to carry them,” Claverie said.
There is still speculation of a revival of ancient bacteria or viruses, but climate change has already increased the spread of diseases that kill about half a million people each year: malaria, dengue, chikungunya, zika.
“The mosquitoes are now able to overwinter in some temperate regions,” said Jean Mele, deputy group leader for biosecurity and public health at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
“They also have a longer reproduction period.”
Native to southeast Asia, the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) – which gives rise to dengue and chikungunya – arrived in southern Europe in the first decade of this century and has been growing rapidly northward to Paris and beyond.
Meanwhile, another dengue-bearing mosquito, Aedes aegypti, has also appeared in Europe. Whichever species may be the culprit, the Europe Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has registered 40 cases of localized dengue transmission between 2010 and 2019.
According to the Europe Center for Disease Prevention and Control, “If virus-infected aegypti are established in Europe, an increase in mean temperatures may lead to seasonal dengue transmission in southern Europe.”
For malaria – a disease that once affected southern Europe and the southern United States and for which an effective treatment exists – the risk of exposure depends in large part on socio-economic conditions.
According to a study cited by the IPCC, if climate change does not continue, more than five billion people may live in malaria-affected areas by 2050, but strong economic growth and social development reduce that number to less than two billion. Can.
The IPCC said in 2013, “Recent experiences in Southern Europe show how fast the disease can grow if health services falter.”
In Africa – which saw 228 million cases of malaria in 2018, 94 percent of the world’s total – the disease vector is growing in new areas, most notably in the high-altitude plains of Ethiopia and Kenya.
At the moment, indications for communicable tropical diseases are “worrisome in the context of expanding vectors, not necessarily transmission,” said Cyril Kaminade, an epidemiologist working at the University of Liverpool on infections and climate change at the Institute of Global Health.
“He said, we are only tasting the taste of climate change so far,” he said.

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