Climate change make antimicrobial resistance more dangerous

Credit: Unsplash+

Climate change is exacerbating the already critical issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), creating an environment where drug-resistant infections can thrive and spread more rapidly.

This concerning link was highlighted in a new evidence review presented by Professor Sabiha Essack at this year’s ESCMID Global Congress.

As the South African Research Chair in Antibiotic Resistance and One Health, Prof. Essack is deeply involved in studying the intersections of human, animal, and environmental health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa.

Prof. Essack describes climate change as a “threat multiplier” for AMR. It affects the spread of diseases through its impact on transportation and population growth, while also directly increasing the risk of AMR by altering the physical and environmental conditions that support microbial life.

These changes undermine ecological and environmental integrity, allowing pathogens to cause more disease. Key concerns include the effects on water systems and the safety of food from animals and crops, with significant implications for global food security.

Temperature plays a crucial role in bacterial life processes, influencing infection rates. With rising global temperatures, bacteria can survive and thrive in regions previously inhospitable to them, leading to increased infection rates at higher altitudes and latitudes.

Prof. Essack pointed out how warmer water temperatures are aiding the survival and proliferation of pathogens like Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Vibrio, which are responsible for water-borne and food-borne illnesses.

Furthermore, fungi like Candida auris are developing tolerance to higher temperatures and salinity, enabling them to survive in new environments.

The ESKAPE pathogens, a group of bacteria known for their ability to “escape” the effects of antibiotics, thrive optimally at temperatures between 32-36°C. As global temperatures inch closer to these levels, these pathogens are likely to become more prevalent and resistant to treatment.

The situation is worsened by the increased use of antimicrobials in response to rising infection rates, which puts additional selective pressure on microbes to develop resistance.

Prof. Essack also discussed the broader environmental impacts of climate change, such as the melting of Arctic and Antarctic ice and the release of ancient antimicrobial resistance genes trapped in permafrost.

These genes, which encode resistance mechanisms like beta-lactamases, efflux pumps, and acetyl transferases, are now being reintroduced into the environment, potentially entering microbial populations and contributing to AMR.

Marine environments are not spared; warmer sea temperatures affect the abundance and distribution of marine pathogens like Vibrio bacteria, which cause infections such as cholera.

The movement of ocean currents and ship ballasts are also playing a role in the global spread of AMR genes across seas.

To combat the intertwined threats of climate change and AMR, Prof. Essack calls for decisive political leadership and strong policy frameworks.

She emphasizes the need for a unified approach that involves evidence-based, innovative solutions from the One Health perspective, which integrates human, animal, and environmental health strategies.

Additionally, global and local collaborations that can integrate efforts against climate change and AMR are essential for addressing these dual challenges effectively.

The review underscores the urgency of acknowledging and acting upon the connections between our planet’s changing climate and the health threats posed by AMR.

It calls for comprehensive strategies that address the root causes of both issues to protect public health and the environment for future generations.

If you care about stroke, please read studies that diets high in flavonoids could help reduce stroke risk, and MIND diet could slow down cognitive decline after stroke.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce the risk of dementia, and tea and coffee may help lower your risk of stroke, dementia.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.