Climate Change

Temperature increase could accelerate rise in antibiotic resistance

Temperature and population density could facilitate transmission and thus increase in antibiotic resistance, say scientists 

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Tuesday 03 July 2018 | 06:12:02 AM
Antibiotic resistance can rise due to increase in temperature and population. Credit: Marco Verch/Flickr
Antibiotic resistance can rise due to increase in temperature and population. Credit: Marco Verch/Flickr Antibiotic resistance can rise due to increase in temperature and population. Credit: Marco Verch/Flickr

A study published recently in Nature Climate Change said that higher local temperatures and population densities have a correlation with higher antibiotic resistance in common bacterial strains.

This is the first time the effects of climate is being recognised in antibiotic resistance distribution over geographies, said the authors rom Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital and the University of Toronto. It is known that climate change affects emerging infectious diseases such as malaria but that antibiotic resistance can grow due to changing climate was not previously thought of.

The study’s lead author, Derek MacFadden, MD, an infectious disease specialist and research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital said, “We also found a signal that the associations between antibiotic resistance and temperature could be increasing over time.”

This is a cause for concern as antibiotic resistance is already one of the biggest health risks and could kill 50 million by 2050 worldwide. Future prospects could be significantly worse than previously thought, said the authors.

Higher local average minimum temperatures correlated strongly with antibiotic resistance. Local average minimum temperature increases of 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) was associated with 4.2, 2.2 and 3.6 per cent increases in antibiotic resistant strains of E. coli, K. pneumoniae, and S. aureus, respectively.

Population and antibiotic resistance

Surprisingly, the authors found an increase of 10,000 people per square mile was associated with three and six per cent respective increases in antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative E. coli and K. pneumoniae. In contrast, population density did not appear to significantly affect the antibiotic resistance of Gram- positive S. aureus.

This study calls for urgent implementation of state and nation wise plans to check antibiotic resistance as well as improving our understanding of the interconnectedness of infectious disease, medicine and our changing environment, argued the authors.

The team assembled a large database of U.S. antibiotic resistance in E. coli, K. pneumoniae and S. aureus between 2013 and 2015.  It represented more than 1.6 million bacterial specimens from 602 unique records across 223 facilities and 41 states in the US.

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IEP Resources:

Identifying climate drivers of infectious disease dynamics: recent advances and challenges ahead

The potential impacts of 21st century climatic and population changes on human exposure to the virus vector mosquito Aedes aegypti

A survey of Dutch expert opinion on climatic drivers of infectious disease risk in Western Europe

Delays in reducing waterborne and water-related infectious diseases in China under climate change

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