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Warming Ocean Temperatures Are Causing A Rise In Infectious Diseases

San Diego lifeguards monitor the beach at Tourmaline Surf Park in Pacific Bea...

Photo by Christopher Maue

Above: San Diego lifeguards monitor the beach at Tourmaline Surf Park in Pacific Beach, Aug. 26, 2014.

Warming Ocean Temperatures Are Causing A Rise In Infectious Diseases


Rita Colwell, distinguished professor, University of Maryland at College Park and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Warming ocean temperatures are often linked to hurricanes and sea level rise but there's also a connection to infectious disease.

University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins Professor Rita Colwell researches global infectious diseases. Using 40 years of data Colwell has been able to connect warming ocean temperatures to the presence of disease-causing bacteria called vibrios to increases in infections in people.

"With climate warming, we've been able to pick up viruses from infected individuals who had died let's say during the 1918 flu epidemic," Colwell said.

"That doesn't mean we're going to have an outbreak of that disease but it means that we can recover the causative agents from the frozen tundra when this climate change causes melting and the emergence of some of these buried victims."

Colwell will be speaking about climate and human health on Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Montezuma Hall on the campus of San Diego State University.

Jade Hindmon spoke with Colwell Monday on KPBS Midday Edition.


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