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  • Laboratory workers conducts testing for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Laboratory for bacterial zoonosis and molecular diagnostics of the Veterinary Specialist Institute Nis (VSI), in Nis, Serbia. April 2020.

    Laboratory workers conducts testing for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Laboratory for bacterial zoonosis and molecular diagnostics of the Veterinary Specialist Institute Nis (VSI), in Nis, Serbia. April 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 4 September 2020
Opinion

According to the study, global warming could lead to an infection increase, with viruses more adaptable to hotter environments and resistant to chemicals. It also means people could contract a disease during daily activities during swimming or eating raw vegetables or fruits.

Switzerland's Lausanne Federal Institute of Technology on Friday said that global warming could make viruses more lethal and harder to control. The American Chemical Society's Environmental Science and Technology journal published the study.

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"This implies that microbial water quality may be worse in warm regions, and the health risks posed by viruses will be greater," said environmental chemistry professor and researcher Tamar Kohn.

The researchers assessed how the enteroviruses respond to lake water with different temperatures and exposure to sunlight. They found that the virus in hot water was more unaffected to chlorine and heat. When replaced into cold water, it remained active for longer.

Enteroviruses are responsible for several diseases, like polio and other common illness as colds or flu. In low sanitation settlements, enteroviruses are present in wastewater and sewage.

"We are mainly thinking of the more frequent occurrence and longer duration of extreme heat waves, which could lead to significant warming of water bodies in the affected areas," Kohn added.

Regularly, viruses deactivate when exposed to high temperatures and sunlight, but scientists concluded they could evolve in response to global warming and climate change.

According to the study, global warming could lead to an infection increase, with viruses more adaptable to hotter environments and resistant to chemicals. It also means people could contract a disease during daily activities during swimming or eating raw vegetables or fruits.

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