By Suhtling Wong | April 17, 2023 10:15 am

Climate change may be linked to an increase in the emergence of new pandemics, according to a new book published by an internationally recognized College of Medicine microbiologist. 

Dr. Salvador Almagro-Moreno has teamed with fellow molecular biologist Dr. Stefan Pukatzki of City University New York – CUNY – to author the book titled Vibro spp. Infections, recently published by Springer Nature. The book includes the latest scientific research articles in this field from experts worldwide.

The book examines the factors associated with the increases in infections caused by pathogenic members of the Vibrionaceae family of aquatic bacteria. A group that encompasses species that cause cholera, flesh-eating disease and diarrhea in humans and can also devastate aquaculture farms.

“Recent decades have seen a steady increase in Vibrio spp. infections originating in aquatic and marine habitats, driven by higher human population densities, warming of polluted oceans, natural and human-made disasters and mass seafood production,” said Dr. Almagro-Moreno.

The book addresses how climate change affects the spread of these bacteria and how pollution and warmer ocean temperatures may be impacting emerging pathogenic strains. It also discusses the current status of vaccines to treat these bacteria and novel therapeutics that may help treat their infections. It lays out the foundation for future studies and covers timely issues in the post- COVID-19 era that can help researchers understand and better predict new emerging pathogens

Dr. Almagro-Moreno started his research career understanding the spread of the cholera bacterium and then began exploring other Vibrionaceae that inhabit the Florida coastlines such as the deadly flesh-eating bacterium Vibrio vulnificus. His goal is to identify the molecular and environmental factors that allow these bacteria to survive, proliferate, and in some cases, turn deadly to humans. 

Dr. Griff Parks, associate dean for research and director of the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, said Dr. Almagro-Moreno’s expertise is key as the world seeks to understand emergent pathogens like COVID-19 and better prepare for future pandemics.

“Dr. Almagro-Moreno continues to carry out highly impactful research on topics that we do not understand very well,” he said, “including the critical question of what environmental and social factors direct the emergence of human pathogens.”

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