Rising ocean temperatures may be making us ill and it’s only getting worse.
Warmth-loving marine bacteria are growing in abundance and posing an increased risk to human health as waters heat up, according to a study published this week.
Vibrio bacteria causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the U.S. every year. Typically found in warm and salty coastal waters or river estuaries, the bacteria are usually picked up through the consumption of raw or undercooked seafood, like oysters, or cuts in the skin when swimming.
There’s been an unprecedented number of Vibrio cases in the U.S. and northern Europe in recent years, said the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The primary reason for this spike is climate change-fueled temperature increases in parts of the Atlantic Ocean, the researchers concluded.
“We were able to demonstrate that there was an increase in the numbers of Vibrios, probably a two or threefold increase, correlated with the increase in climate temperature, and then correlated with outbreaks of Vibrio infections that have been recorded in the medical records,” study co-author Rita Colwell, a microbiologist at the University of Maryland, told The Washington Post.