June 16, 2024

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“Heatwave Earth” Brings a New Threat: The Unbridled Spread of Drug-Resistant Bacteria

“Heatwave Earth” Brings a New Threat: The Unbridled Spread of Drug-Resistant Bacteria

“Heatwave Earth” Brings a New Threat: The Unbridled Spread of Drug-Resistant Bacteria

The escalating threat of global warming is now extending its impact into the realm of public health, with scientists increasingly concerned that the warming climate will unleash the rampant spread of drug-resistant superbugs.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), termed by the World Health Organization as the “silent pandemic,” refers to the growing resistance of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms to conventional antibiotics—a progressively serious yet often overlooked global health crisis.

"Heatwave Earth" Brings a New Threat: The Unbridled Spread of Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Typically, this phenomenon arises as a result of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, leading to microbial mutations. If antibiotics become ineffective, treating infections becomes more challenging, and these drug-resistant pathogens may be transmitted to others, further complicating the task of containment.

The World Health Organization has previously declared AMR as one of the top ten threats to human health globally, estimating that 1.3 million people die directly from drug-resistant pathogens each year.

Compounding the issue, recent research indicates that climate change is exacerbating the AMR crisis on multiple fronts.

The World Health Organization warns that without urgent action, this figure will “sharply rise,” resulting in higher public health, economic, and societal costs, plunging more people into poverty, particularly in low-income countries.

A Heightened Concern

Climate crisis intensifies extreme heat, making extreme weather more frequent and intense. Scientists stated earlier this month that the abnormal fluctuations in global temperature records mean that 2023 is “almost certain” to be the hottest year on record.

This year, the United Nations Environment Programme released a report titled “Preparing for Superbugs,” outlining the impact of the climate crisis and other environmental factors on the development and spread of AMR. It lists factors such as higher temperatures being linked to the speed of antibiotic resistance gene transmission among microorganisms and increased environmental pollution creating favorable conditions for bacteria to develop resistance.

In response to the threat of AMR, Tina Joshi, Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology at the University of Plymouth in the UK, emphasized the significance of climate issues during a recent interview. “The changes happening on Earth highlight the importance of climate issues. The higher the temperature rises, the more infectious diseases, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria, spread.”

Joshi pointed out, “Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are called the ‘silent pandemic’ because no one knows about it, and it seems like no one pays attention to it, which is really unfortunate.”

Robb Butler, Director of Infectious Diseases, Environment, and Health at the Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization, highlighted that AMR is “an extremely urgent global health challenge.” He noted, “It is a huge health burden, costing EU member states alone up to €1.5 billion (approximately $1.6 billion) in healthcare expenses each year, and it also results in productivity losses.”

Butler also expressed his hope to inform international policymakers at the upcoming COP28 climate conference in the UAE (November 30 to December 12) about the connection between the climate crisis and AMR.

“In the past 20 years, we have not seen the development of antibacterial drugs with sufficiently unique features to prevent the resistance of bacterial viruses… AMR should not be silent, and we should raise more awareness about it.”

Additionally, Thomas Schinecker, CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals in Switzerland, expressed concern last month, stating, “One issue I am worried about is the potential for antibiotic-resistant bacteria to become an epidemic. Therefore, we need to focus on preparing for this situation in the future.”

“Heatwave Earth” Brings a New Threat: The Unbridled Spread of Drug-Resistant Bacteria

(source:internet, reference only)

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