Why climate change is causing upset stomachs in Europe

Why climate change is causing upset stomachs in Europe
Credit: Shutterstock

Much has been said about the effect of climate change, but little is known about its impact of water-related health issues. Scientists are now suggesting that greater quantities of rainfall and bigger storms could be responsible for more unsettled stomachs in parts of Europe.

The VIROCLIME project has studied the impact of climate change on the transport, fate and risk management of in . Over a four-year period, the project has examined and sought ways to manage the and the risk associated with . With EU-funding of EUR 2.4 million, the approach has been to design hydrological models and upgrade tools for tracking harmful viruses from human sewage in Europe's waters, and subsequently determine the health risks.

According to the (WHO), the lack of safe drinking-water affects almost 1 billion people. Furthermore, they predict that 4 % of the global disease burden could be prevented by improving water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.

This has been the aim of the VIROCLIME project led by Professor David Kay and Dr Peter Wyn-Jones from the University of Aberystwyth in the UK. They have conducted case studies and monitored virus levels at five environmentally sensitive sites in; Sweden, Spain, Hungary, Greece and Brazil. These countries are particularly vulnerable to climate change, being susceptible to heavy rainfall.

Tests included analysing exposure levels to estimate the risk of disease associated with climate changes such as heavy rainfall. Tools were also devised and novel methods introduced for processing sewage, collecting effluent and water samples, and analysing quantitative detection of the target viruses.

Models were also adapted from existing epidemiological models to test viral diseases within the community and an indicator analysis helped to track any relationship between virus levels and water quality standards. Also tested were changes in the virus concentration in water, and the risk to public health activities, such as bathing in polluted water or consumption of shellfish.

As a result of this study, a large database has been established, with over 1800 samples, enabling testing for a range of enteric viruses and bacterial water quality indicators. This, in turn, allows researchers to make predictions about variations in virus concentrations under different climate change scenarios.

Project partners say their data will help to inform policy and scientific communities, as well as wider communities on the likely consequences of .

A review of the VIROCLIME study has been published in the Cambridge Journal, Epidemiology and Infection, titled, 'Extreme water-related weather events and waterborne disease.'

More information: VIROCLIME www.viroclime.org/
Epidemiology and Infection- Cambridge Journal journals.cambridge.org/action/… e=online&aid=8843275
World Health Organization (WHO) www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/en/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Professor publishes study on detection of human noroviruses

Oct 28, 2011

Coastal water is subjected to contamination with a wide range of pathogenic microorganisms, which presents a major health risk to recreational water users. The current use of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) as an indicator ...

Waterborne disease risk upped in Great Lakes

Oct 08, 2008

An anticipated increased incidence of climate-related extreme rainfall events in the Great Lakes region may raise the public health risk for the 40 million people who depend on the lakes for their drinking water, according ...

Australia needs better plan for variable water future

Sep 29, 2010

The delivery of sustainable water supplies in Australia will require water managers and engineers to factor in a range of predicted variations in climate and long-term demand for water resources, according ...

Recommended for you

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mememine69
1 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2013
Science does NOT agree!
Science agrees "it is real and happening and "COULD" cause a crisis" and in 28 years science has never said it WILL happen or is inevitable or eventual, like they say comet hits are. Deny that!
How close to unstoppable warming will they take us before they finally say their crisis WILL happen, not just might happen? Science gave us pesticides don't forget.
Find me one that says it "WILL" happen because every IPCC warning is swimming in maybes and could bes and might bes and probablys and potentiallys and………..help my house is on fire maybe?
Our grandkids will have to explain our CO2 threats to our children. Who's the neocon again here?