Guardian] Earlier this month, an outbreak of anthrax in northern Russia caused the death of a 12-year-old boy and his grandmother and put 90 people in the hospital. These deadly spores – which had not been seen in the Arctic since 1941 – also spread to 2,300 caribou. Russian troops trained in biological warfare were dispatched to the Yamalo-Nenets region to evacuate hundreds of the indigenous, nomadic people and quarantine the disease.
Americans are likely to associate anthrax with the mysterious white
powder that was mailed to news media and US Senate offices in the weeks
following 11 September 2001. The bacteria – usually sequestered in
biological weapons labs – killed five people and infected 17 others in
the most devastating bioterrorism attack in US history.
But in Russia, the spread of illness was not the result of
bioterrorism; it was a result of global warming. Record-high
temperatures melted Arctic
permafrost and released deadly anthrax spores from a thawing carcass of
a caribou that had been infected 75 years ago and had stayed frozen in
limbo until now. This all suggests that it may not be easy to predict
which populations will be most vulnerable to the health impacts of
climate change. Read More