Climate Crisis and Natural Disasters: Emerging and re-emerging Epidemics

Over the past 2 years humanity has faced an unforeseen disaster due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to a global health crisis with severe economic, social, and psychological consequences. Climate crisis and the gradual warming of the earth’s atmosphere affects extreme weather like droughts and hurricanes, which have various effects on human health. The main indirect effects are on infectious diseases.

Although the effects on infectious diseases will be detected worldwide, the degree and types of the effect are different, depending on the location of the respective countries and socioeconomical situations. It has been well established that these types of natural disasters can play a role in infectious diseases spread and pandemics. Among infectious diseases, water- and foodborne infectious diseases and vector-borne infectious diseases are forecasted to be most affected. The effect on vector-borne infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever is mainly because of the expansion of the infested areas of vector mosquitoes and increase in the number and feeding activity of infected mosquitoes. In certain cases the global warming can displace certain animal species and thereby bring them in closer contact with humans, either directly with humans or via domestic animals, and this then facilitates cross-species transmission so that viruses can be transmitted from these wild animal species onto humans and thereby cause new or re-emerging outbreaks.

Even with the strongest mitigation procedures, global warming cannot be avoided for decades. Therefore, implementation of adaptation measures to the effect of global warming is the most practical action we can take. It is generally accepted that the impacts of global warming on infectious diseases have not been apparent at this point yet. However, these impacts will appear in one form or another if global warming continues to progress in future. Further proactive measures and public health policies on the impacts of global warming on infectious diseases and on future prospects should be on daily research and policy agendas.