People could be exposed to harmful waterborne pathogens through spending time in coastal waters or from eating contaminated seafood such as shellfish.
To understand where people are at risk, we’re conducting experiments to uncover how climate change and warming sea temperatures impact the evolution and ecology of waterborne pathogens. This includes bacterial and viral pathogens linked to human waste, animal waste and marine environments (like the bacteria Vibrio spp.), which can cause disease and infections.
We’re also study antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in waterborne bacteria. AMR occurs when bacteria and viruses change over time and stop responding to medicines like antibiotics. We’re specifically examine how climate change affects the spread of drug-resistant pathogens in coastal areas, which will help us understand how the combination of pollution and climate change is increasing the risk of AMR evolution and human transmission.
The data we collect will be used to create models that predict how pathogens and AMR will behave in coastal environments under different future climates. This information will help us understand the risks posed to human health, and guide future policies and actions to prevent and mitigate these risks. Read about our computer modeling work here.