Another Downside To Climate Change

The Lempert Report
March 21, 2019

In a paper published in Royal Society Open Science, a team of researchers from the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto reports evidence that as the planet heats up, humans may become more susceptible to food poisoning.

They cite modeling of fly population increases that would be caused by increases in temperatures in Canada, and why they believe such increases will lead to more cases of food poisoning.

Campylobacter bacteria are a group of bacteria species that together account for a very large number of cases of food poisoning annually. The researchers note that one such species is behind the most common type of gastrointestinal illness in Canada— campylobacteriosis which infects people in Canada more in the summer than other months, and flies have been found with the bacteria on their bodies; no surprise - flies are most active in summer. 

In this new study, the researchers have worked under the assumption that flies are a carrier and they explored what might happen if more flies were to appear in Canada each summer as the planet warms—prior studies have shown that fly eggs hatch more quickly in warmer temperatures, allowing the insects to reproduce more effectively.

They report that their models showed fly populations increasing to the point that cases of Campylobacter food poisoning could double by the year 2080.