Saturday, November 26, 2016

Rising ocean temperatures impacting human health, new report finds

Public Release: 4-Oct-2016
Rising ocean temperatures impacting human health, new report finds
University of Texas at Austin

Rising sea surface temperatures are causing marine-related tropical diseases and harmful algal blooms to spread towards the poles, a shift that is impacting human health, according to a chapter from a new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) authored by professors from The University of Texas at Austin and Plymouth University.

The report, Explaining Ocean Warming: causes, scale, effects and consequences, was compiled for IUCN by 80 scientists in 12 countries and draws on several decades of scientific research from across the spectrum of marine science.

The chapter on "Impacts and effects of ocean warming on human health" highlights the spread of Vibrio vulnifucus, an often lethal disease-causing bacteria.

The bacteria and disease it causes have historically been a problem in warm waters, such as the Gulf of Mexico, where 89 percent of human contraction has come from eating infected oysters. But the disease, which kills between one-third and one-half of those who end up in hospital, has been spreading. In recent years, outbreaks of related Vibrio bacteria have occurred in the Baltic Sea and in Alaska, 1,000 kilometers further north than previously recorded.

Harmful algal blooms, which can contaminate seafood with dangerous toxins that cause diseases such as ciguatera, are also spreading. Ciguatera causes severe, sometimes lethal, gastric and neurological damage.

"In just a few years we have moved from a place where we knew this was hypothetically possible, to actual recorded cases of transmission to humans through interaction with a warming marine environment," said co-author Camille Parmesan, an adjunct professor and a senior research fellow at the UT Ausin's Jackson School of Geosciences and a professor at Plymouth University.


No comments:

Post a Comment