Culture

Experts Warn That Siberia’s Melting Permafrost Could Raise Smallpox From The Grave

Getty Image / Stephen Morton

Thanks to modern miracles like YouTube and savvy marketing types, the 21st century is a nostalgia lover’s paradise. Heck, even deadly diseases are making a comeback. Hmm…that’s no good, is it?

A new report from The Siberian Times (they’ve been wrong in the past so many grains of salt and all that) cautions that smallpox could be on the way back as the Siberian permafrost continues to melt. This troubling forecast comes of the heels of news that anthrax has made an unwelcome return to western Siberia.

“Back in the 1890s, there occurred a major epidemic of smallpox,” said Boris Kershengolts, deputy director for research at the Institute for Biological Problems of Cryolithozone, of the Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences

“There was a town where up to 40% of the population died. Naturally, the bodies were buried under the upper layer of permafrost soil, on the bank of the Kolyma River. Now, a little more than 100 years later, Kolyma’s floodwaters have started eroding the banks.”

Considering that naturally occurring smallpox was said to be eradicated worldwide in the ’80s, a melting stockpile of smallpox-riddled corpses can comfortably be designated as a “bad thing.” If there’s a positive to this report, it’s the accompanying news that if smallpox is unleashed, it may be summoned by something else.

“Our results thus further substantiate the possibility that infectious viral pathogens might be released from ancient permafrost layers exposed by thawing, mining, or drilling,” says a study on the matter according to TRT World.

Wait a second, that’s not good news at all. If melting permafrost doesn’t coax it out, drilling will? Ugh, back into our biodome we go.

(Via The Siberian Times)

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