Smallpox, the infectious disease that claimed millions of lives in the 18th century, is set to make a nasty comeback after infected ancient corpses were unearthed in Siberia.
According to Russian scientists, the rapidly melting permafrost is the reason why the entombed corpses were exposed. Unfortunately, the corpses were infected with anthrax and smallpox, diseases that almost wiped out 40% of the population in the region.
Since the corpses were exposed, the region of Salekhard was plagued by anthrax outbreak, resulting in 24 hospitalizations and the death of 2,300 reindeer in the area.
According to Russian scientists, rapidly melting permafrost is causing the disease to ‘reactivate’ from bodies buried over 120 years ago.
Ranker.com reports: Smallpox was thought to be eradicated in 1980, and the last known case of the disease was in Somalia. Since its first occurrence thousands of years ago, the virus has killed millions of people. It’s a devastating disease that’s wiped out entire populations. This development could mean the return of smallpox and of mass deaths worldwide. There are plenty of negative effects of climate change, but researchers haven’t seen anything like this before.
The Corpses Of Smallpox Victims Are Being Unearthed Because Of Rapid Melting
Some 120 years ago, a large number of people in Siberia died from a smallpox outbreak. Their bodies were entombed in the permafrost tundra – a thick subsurface layer of soil that remains frozen throughout the year – and many believed they were secure from future contact. But then this year, the tundra melted more than usual. Typically, the tundra melts about one to two feet annually. This year it melted more than three feet, and scientists predict it will keep melting more.
Image courtesy of: TC3_BIOL105