Warming Oceans Could Spread Bacteria

And that could cost millions in health care spending

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 14, 2011 2:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – Global warming could make you sick—literally. As the oceans get warmer, they're also proving a more hospitable home for Vibrio bacteria, helping to spread it around the world, according to a paper presented yesterday in Brussels. Scientists warned that, left unchecked, the phenomenon could lead to millions of dollars in medical costs, the AP reports. The bacteria is known to cause food poisoning, gastroenteritis, septicemia, and cholera.

"Climatic conditions are playing an increasingly important role in the transmission of these diseases," the paper concludes. The report is a synthesis of 100 other studies funded by the European Union since 1998, and it describes other climate change effects such as coastal erosion and increased storm intensity. "What was striking to me was the enormous pile of evidence that things are already happening," one researcher said.

A sign warns people not to swim in a polluted beach in this file photo.
A sign warns people not to swim in a polluted beach in this file photo.   (Getty Images)
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