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According to a study published by Scientific Reports, the warming of US coastal waters due to Climate change enables the spread of dangerous flesh-eating bacteria. The incidence of infections from the Vibrio vulnificus pathogen, which thrives in shallow, brackish water, was eight times greater in the eastern US in 2018 than in 1988. Its range has shifted northward to areas previously too cold to Support it. The mortality rate of this infection is as high as 18 percent, and fatalities have occurred as soon as 48 hours after exposure.

Source: SciTech Now/Youtube

The pathogen is expected to become more common in major population centers, including New York City, by the middle of the 21st century. By the end of the century, infections may occur in every US Atlantic coast state if carbon emissions follow a medium- to high-level trajectory.

According to James Oliver, a biology professor at the University of North Carolina and one of the study’s co-authors, the only way to slow the pathogen spread is to curb Climate change. “This pathogen needs lower salinity and warmer waters, both enhanced by Global warming,” he said.

As global temperatures rise, dangerous bacteria such as Vibrio vulnificus may become more common. We must take action to mitigate the effects of Climate change and reduce our carbon emissions. This can involve individual activities such as reducing our reliance on single-use plastics and eating a more plant-based diet, and supporting politicians and companies that prioritize climate action.

Taking precautions when swimming in coastal waters is also essential, especially for those with existing health conditions. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people with wounds, including surgical incisions or piercings, stay out of salt water, cover wounds with waterproof bandages, and wash any wounds with soap and water if they are exposed to saltwater.

The spread of a dangerous flesh-eating bacteria in US coastal waters is a sobering reminder of the devastating effects of Climate change. As individuals, we can take action to reduce our carbon emissions and Support climate action. We can also take precautions when swimming in coastal waters, especially if we have existing health conditions. By working together, we can create a more sustainable future for ourselves and for generations to come.

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