Russian anthrax outbreak blamed on climate change

2016-08-06 17:23


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Moscow - Russian authorities have confirmed that two people have died after an outbreak of anthrax in Siberia.

Unusually warm weather is believed to be behind the release of the bacteria, which has resulted in the death of a boy and his grandmother.

Another 90 people have been hospitalised on suspicion of anthrax infection and over 2 300 reindeer have died, a report says.

The defence ministry said it had sent more than 200 specialist troops to the region to decontaminate the infected area and burn the corpses of infected animals.

It stressed that there was "no epidemic" and the affected area had been sealed off.

Anthrax is caused by the spores of the bacterium Bacillus anthracis.

It is a deadly infection that has previously been used in biological weapons and in terrorist attacks in the US in 2001, when letters containing anthrax were posted to media offices and US senators.

It is naturally found in soil and occasionally infects livestock whilst grazing.

It is believed that the current outbreak came from the carcass of a reindeer that died in an anthrax outbreak 75 years ago and has been frozen ever since.

Anthrax can lie dormant in frozen soil such as permafrost for decades and only becomes a problem if the permafrost melts.

Over the past month, temperatures in Siberia have soared up to 35°C. This has melted the upper layers of the permafrost and sparked wildfires.

Read more on:    russia  |  environment  |  health

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