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Arctic Circle's melting ice resurrecting horrifying diseases unseen for decades


(NaturalNews) As ice that has been around for thousands of years melts due to shifts in weather patterns, there is concern among some scientists that viruses and diseases that have been frozen in time may be about to make a deadly comeback.

As reported by Vice News, a recent "zombie" anthrax outbreak was unleashed lately when centuries-old permafrost melted, killing 2,300 reindeer, causing dozens of people to be hospitalized and even killing a child in northern Siberia – an incident which may be a prelude to many more to come.

The super-deadly bacteria was unleashed after an anthrax-infected reindeer carcass that had been locked in permafrost for 75 years began to thaw, following record-high summer temperatures in the area. Vice News, quoting a Siberian news source, said that the rate at which permafrost melted this past summer was three times faster than normal.

Video of the scene reveals the gruesome finding. With the Yamal-Nenets region of the Arctic Circle as a backdrop, the video shows herds of reindeer with researchers milling about in yellow HAZMAT protective suits and masks, disinfecting the land and burning all infected carcasses and other matter.

Thus far the anthrax infection has manifested itself mostly in the region's nomadic reindeer population. And while Russian health officials acknowledge that hospitalization numbers are falling – just a few weeks ago, 115 people had been hospitalized with suspected cases – scientists and researchers fear there could be other deadly viruses and diseases still trapped beneath the dwindling permafrost.

Melting permafrost raises concerns about more than just anthrax

They are especially concerned about smallpox, Vice reported. Boris Kershengolts, deputy director of research at the Institute for Biological Problems of Cryolithozone (another name for permafrost), told the Siberian Times that a smallpox outbreak in the 1890s devastated towns across northeastern Siberia, including Kolmya.

"There was a town where up to 40 percent of the population died," Kershengolts said. "Naturally the bodies were buried under the upper layer of permafrost, on the bank of the Kolmya River. Now a little more than 100 years later, Kolmya's floodwater have started eroding the banks."

French scientists found an ancient virus in March 2014 that came "back to life" after being dormant and frozen in the deep Siberian permafrost for over 30,000 years. So the anthrax revival isn't an anomaly either.

Spores can survive hundreds of years

What's more, it isn't just once-dormant diseases that have scientists concerned. A top-secret nuclear missile project base that was built by the United States Army under the ice in Greenland during the Cold War called "Camp Century," was intended to expand into a network of tunnels that would be utilized to deploy nuclear missiles that could reach the former Soviet Union in the event of a nuclear conflict.

Abandoned in 1967 over concerns about unstable ice conditions, the remnants of Project Iceworm (as the project at Camp Century was called) were believed at the time to have been permanently buried in layers of snow and ice. But a study that was published earlier this month by the American Geophysical Union said that rising temperatures and melting ice would "guarantee" the release of "physical, chemical, biological, and radiological wastes abandoned at the site."

According to the report, the base was abandoned along with its wastes, and there was minimal decommissioning at the time. The report purports to demonstrate how the release of those wastes into the environment is possible within the next 75 years. And though Camp Century and four other ice sheet bases were established legally under a U.S.-Danish treaty, "the potential remobilization of their abandoned wastes, previously regarded as sequestered, represents an entirely new pathway of political dispute resulting from climate change," the report warns.

Scientists note that there have long been treatments for resisting and combating anthrax, but it is believed that anthrax spores can survive hundreds of years. That's what makes the disease so potentially deadly in the event of a mass melting of permafrost.







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