Dormant bacteria trapped in ice could be released by climate change
As the world warms, permafrost soils that have been frozen for thousands years are melting, releasing ancient viruses and bacteria that have lain dormant, reports the BBC.
The first case: Last August, in a remote part of the Siberian tundra in the Arctic Circle, a 12-year-old boy died and at least 20 people were hospitalized after being infected by anthrax.
- The theory: Over 75 years ago, a reindeer infected with anthrax died and its frozen corpse became trapped under a layer of frozen soil, or permafrost. The remains stayed there until a heatwave in 2016 melted the permafrost. The exposed carcass then released its anthrax into nearby water and soil, and made its way into the food supply.
Why this matters: Scientists worry this will not be an isolated case. As the Earth continues to warm, more permafrost will melt, and expose years of dormant diseases.