For the first time since 1941, anthrax has hit Western Siberia, with 1,500 reindeer dying and 13 Yamal nomads being hospitalized including 4 children.
This is because unusually high temperatures (it’s 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal) have melted permafrost containing the corpse of a reindeer that died of the bacteria 75 years ago.
Anthrax goes dormant when frozen, turning into a spore that reanimates when the temperature rises. Scientists estimate it can survive in this state for a minimum of 100 years.
In Siberia, dozens of herders have been relocated, a quarantine is in place and a state of emergency has been declared by the mayor.
This renews concerns that ancient viruses and bacteria could once again pose a threat, as the earth warms.
In 2014 scientists discovered that a Siberian virus, pithovirus sibericum, which lay dormant in permafrost for 30,000 years, became infectious again once thawed.