The Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are warming and threatening life like never before in human history.
But the consequences of climate change are not limited to this.
According to a new study by an international team of researchers, there is another less well-known, but rather dangerous effect of global warming.
The spread of flesh-eating bacteria in coastal waters and the ability to make people dangerously sick in those waters, even in fine weather.
The study specifically points to Vibrio vulnificus, a species notorious for infecting humans.
Vibrio vulnificus can make people sick when they eat raw or undercooked seafood, especially oysters.
However, when exposed to an open wound, it can also cause life-threatening necrotizing fasciitis (tissue infection).
Long known from coastal waters in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coasts of Georgia and Florida, V. vulnificus appears to pose a growing threat to these regions and also colonize new habitats further north, the study’s authors report.
Over 30 years, the number of V. vulnificus infections along the US East Coast rose from 10 to 80 per year, according to the study; It could be on track to reach 200 per year by 2100.
The authors add that cases appear further north each year. Once rarely found north of Georgia on the US Atlantic coast, the bacterium can now be found as far north as Philadelphia.