Global panic as smallpox, anthrax resurrect in Arctic region

Global panic as smallpox, anthrax resurrect in Arctic region

- Scientists warn that the world is in grave danger of witnessing another devastating outbreak of killer diseases Anthrax and Smallpox

- They say the warning is because old graves in the Arctic region have begun opening up because of melting of the ice due to climate change

- Russian territory, Siberia has already witnessed an outbreak of anthrax and scientists fear that smallpox is next

Global panic as smallpox, anthrax resurrect in Arctic region

A victim of the Smallpox variola virus. From the archives of Press Portrait Service.

The global health community is currently on wide alert after scientists discovered that mankind’s most feared diseases besides Ebola have been resurrected in the North Pole area.

According to reports in The Sun UK, experts are worried that deadly diseases Small Pox and Anthrax could once again devastate the planet thanks to ancient graves bursting open as a result of melting Arctic ice.

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The Sun reports that thawing of Arctic graves is happening three times faster than usual in Siberia and Russian scientists are warning of the threat of resurrection of an even more virulent re-emergence of smallpox from graves in the Arctic where permafrost is melting due to climate change.

The new alert is coming just after an outbreak of deadly anthrax in the Yamal peninsula in July killed one child, led to 24 more people being confirmed with infections and more than 2,300 reindeer perishing in the outbreak.

Experts said the anthrax infection is believed to have spread after the thawing of reindeer or even human graves but now scientists warn the same process could release smallpox, a disease that has been eradicated in the world.

The Sun quotes deputy director for research at the Institute for Biological Problems of the Cryolithozone in Yakutsk, Boris Kershengolts as warning, “Can these processes repeat themselves? Of course they can.

“Back in the 1890s, there occurred a major epidemic of smallpox – there was a town where up to 40 per cent of the population died.

“Naturally, the bodies were buried under the upper layer of permafrost soil, on the bank of the Kolyma River (in eastern Siberia).

“Now, a little more than 100 years later, Kolyma’s floodwaters have started eroding the banks.”

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Scientists are said to have discovered new “giant viruses” in woolly mammoths, the carcasses of which are appearing as warmer weather melts ice and permafrost.

“Their pathology has not been proven, we must continue to study them,” says Professor Sergey Netesov, of Novosibirsk State University.

“I think climate change will bring us many surprises,” he said. “I don’t want to scare anyone, but we should be ready.”

The Sun reports that the depth of thawing in the Yakutia, Russia’s largest region, is usually 30-to-60 centimetres, while this year it has exceeded one metre. This is according to deputy director of the Permafrost Studies Institute, Mikhail Grigoriev.

“The rock and soil that forms the Yamal Peninsula contains much ice,” he said.

“Melting may loosen the soil rather quickly, so the probability is high that old cattle graves may come to the surface.

“Some graves dug in the past may be just three meters deep, covered by a very thin layer of soil.

“The spores of the (anthrax) disease are now on the loose.”

Deputy chief of Russia’s Central Research Institute of Epidemiology,Viktor Maleyev warns that apart from anthrax and smallpox, there are many other dangers lurking in shallow Arctic graves which might be unlocked from the ice after centuries and the world must be prepared.

“Their pathology has not been proven, we must continue to study them.”

“I think climate change will bring us many surprises,” he said. “I don’t want to scare anyone, but we should be ready.”

The International Business Times once reported that Smallpox, also known as Variola vera caused an estimated 300 to 500 million deaths in the 20 century and in 1967, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that around 15 million people contracted the disease and two million died that year alone

Meanwhile, Nollywood actress, Bimbo Akintola is playing the role of late Nigerian heroine Ameyo Adadevoh, the courageous medical doctor who sacrificed herself to prevent the Ebola disease from reaching critical levels when it reached Nigeria in 2014.

More courageous people like Adadevoh would be needed should the smallpox warning become a reality.

Source: Naija.ng

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