Climate Change Elevates Risks of Disease Transmission, Health Experts Warn

AYDIN, Turkey — Health experts are raising concerns about the increasing risks of disease transmission and the exacerbation of seasonal illnesses due to rising temperatures linked to climate change. Dr. Emine Didem Evci Kiraz, from Adnan Menderes University Medical School, emphasizes the multifaceted health challenges emerging as global temperatures climb.

According to Philippines News Agency, the escalation of climate-induced temperatures is predicted to significantly enhance the impact of ultraviolet radiation from the sun, affect the quality of food and water, alter the transmission patterns of infectious diseases, increase animal-derived diseases, and pose new threats to mental health. The emergence of novel diseases further underscores the heightened vulnerability of public health to the consequences of climate change.

Dr. Kiraz elaborated on the physiological stress that increased temperatures place on the human body, noting that the average body temperature ranges between 36.1 degrees Celsius (96.7F) and 37.8 degrees Celsius (100F). The body relies on mechanisms such as sweating and heat transfer to regulate its temperature. However, elevated temperatures can overburden the heart and blood vessels, deplete fluids in tissues and cells, and compromise kidney function. She warned of the potential for metabolic syndromes and disruptions in organ function, including emergencies like sudden drops in blood pressure and fainting due to heat exposure.

The health expert also pointed out that prolonged exposure to heat and water loss can lead to immobility and, in extreme cases, death. Mental health issues, violence, and unsafe behavior are additional concerns linked to sudden heat waves. Kiraz further mentioned that temperatures around 37 degrees Celsius create ideal conditions for bacterial growth, increasing susceptibility to food and waterborne diseases amidst deteriorating hygiene conditions.

Climate change-driven phenomena such as floods and power outages are likely to intensify the incidence of water and foodborne illnesses, leading to a rise in food poisoning cases. Dr. Kiraz highlighted the concerning trend of new diseases being transmitted by animals, including arboviruses, dengue fever, Chikungunya fever, and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, as a result of climate change.

Moreover, Dr. Kiraz emphasized the critical impact of climate change on respiratory conditions and allergies. Pollutants and environmental disruptions caused by air pollution, floods, wildfires, and dust storms can alter pollen structures and extend pollen seasons, thereby increasing the frequency of asthma, rhinosinusitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and respiratory infections.