How Did Anthrax Flare Up In Siberia?

How Did Anthrax Flare Up In Siberia?

In Russia last week several cases of anthrax were reported in a nomadic reindeer herding community. Eight people have been formally diagnosed with the disease and one 12-year-old boy has died. Anthrax today is commonly thought of as a biological weapon, but anthrax isn't man-made. The disease, caused by a bacteria, shows up in oblique references in written texts as early as 1250 BC. The bacteria occurs naturally in soil, only becoming dangerous when they enter the body of a human or animal, where they multiply, producing a toxin that can cause a host of unpleasant and deadly symptoms ranging from blisters through high fevers, chills, shortness of breath, and nausea. It can be treated with antibiotics, and is not contagious, but can be spread when people come in contact with infected livestock or products like meat or animal skins that originate from infected animals. The sudden spike in Siberian anthrax cases has roots in 1941, when the last outbreak happened in the area. Researchers believe that this year's record-breaking stretch of warm temperatures has contributed to melting permafrost, the previously permanently frozen layer of soil in the tundra. Read More: Popular Science
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