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As the Earth warms, there is increasing concern about the return of frozen diseases

The frozen state that covers large areas of the earth is thawing, and in the process bacteria that were trapped in deep freeze are released into the environment

Thawing frozen soil witness in Alaska. Source: NPS Climate Change Response.
Thawing frozen soil witness in Alaska. Source: NPS Climate Change Response.

By Sara Godarzi, the article is published with the permission of Scientific American Israel and the Ort Israel network 11.12.2016

In the summer of 2016, anthrax bacteria killed (Anthrax) a 12-year-old boy in a remote area of ​​Siberia. At least another 20 people, also from the same area in Siberia, Yamal Peninsula, were diagnosed with the sometimes fatal disease, after about 100 people suspected of infection were hospitalized. Also, more than 2,300 moose in the area died from infection with the bacteria. What is the likely reason for this? The thawing of the frozen state: layers of soil that were frozen all year round. According to the Russian authorities, in the recent period, before the recent cases, the thawing of the stasis of the witness released spores of the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which causes the embers, into the water sources and into the nearby lands and from there the bacteria reached the food supply. This eruption is the first in 75 years in the region.

For years, researchers have predicted that one of the effects of global warming could be the release of everything frozen in the frozen layer, such as primitive bacteria, for example. The scientists warned that among these bacteria may be disease-causing agents that humans will not be prepared for, or will not be vaccinated against. And now they witness the realization of the hypothesis: infectious bacteria emerge from the freezer.

Although anthrax bacteria are found naturally in the soil and outbreaks not related to tree stagnation occur occasionally, widespread thawing could increase the number of people exposed to anthrax bacteria. BArticle Published Boris A. Ravitch and Marina A. Podolnia in 2011 in the journal Global Health Action they predicted that "causing agents of deadly diseases from the 18th and 19th centuries trapped in the frozen ground may return and erupt when it thaws, especially near the cemeteries where the victims of the plagues were buried."

The permafrost is indeed thawing, and this is happening at latitudes closer to the poles and at greater depths than ever before. In different parts of Siberia, the layer of soil above the freezing point may thaw every summer to a depth of 50 centimeters. However, in the summer of 2016, a heat wave passed over the area and the temperature rose 30-25 degrees Celsius above normal. The change may have extended or deepened the thaw and mobilized microorganisms that were stuck in the stiff soil. Although scientists have not yet finished calculating the final depth of the last thaw, they speculate that it reached a depth not seen in nearly a century. A study published in the journal Science in 2013 stated that, in general, thawing of permafrost may be more common even at temperatures only slightly higher than the current average. Heat waves in higher latitudes are also becoming more and more frequent.

The content that thawing may release from the frozen soil depends on the resistance of the bacteria to the environmental conditions. Many microorganisms cannot survive in extreme cold, while others manage to withstand such conditions for many years. "Bacillus anthracis bacteria are unique due to their ability to form spores," he says Jean-Michel Calabry, head of the Mediterranean Institute of Microbiology and professor at the University of Aix-Marseille in France. "Spores are extraordinarily durable, like seeds, and can survive for more than a century."

Viruses are also able to survive for long periods. In 2014 and 2015, Calabari and his colleague published Chantal Abergel Research findings in which the researchers discovered two types of viruses in a 30,000-year-old piece of frozen Siberian soil. the viruses, Phytovirus sibiricum וMolivirus sibericum, maintained their infectivity. Although the viruses are only able to infect amoebas, the very discovery is a sign that viruses that infect humans - such as the smallpox virus and the Spanish flu virus - may be preserved in the frozen ground.

Viruses that infect humans may appear from even more distant times. For example, viruses that lived in the bodies or on the skin of the first humans who lived in the Arctic region may still be frozen in the ground. "There are hints that Neanderthal man and Denisovan man could have settled in northern Siberia and contracted various viral diseases, some of which are known to us, such as smallpox, and others may have disappeared," says Kalbari. "The fact that there could be continuity in infection from the time of the primitive hominins to the present day is a fascinating possibility - but also a cause for concern."

Janet Jenson, a frozen-in researcher at the American Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington state, is not worried about ancient viruses. According to her, several attempts to find these infectious agents in the corpses turned up nothing. But she supports the continuation of research to identify the wide variety of creatures living in the frozen soils, including those that may endanger health. To achieve this goal, Jenson and others are using modern molecular tools, such as DNA sequencing and protein analysis, to classify the properties of unknown tiny organisms, sometimes referred to as bacterial dark matter.

The likelihood and frequency of eruptions similar to the one in Siberia depend on the rate and duration of climate change. For example, it is possible that another heat wave will expose the carcasses of animals infected with the anthrax virus, Ravich says. "The situation in the Yamel Peninsula showed that the risk of the embers spreading is already a real risk," he adds.

In fact, one cannot know and cannot predict the timing and degree of violence of infectious agents buried in the layers of the stasis of the witness. Thus, researchers say its thawing is not their biggest concern when it comes to infectious diseases and global warming. The immediate and certain threat to humanity stems from the geographical spread of the infection areas of known infectious diseases (and of their carriers, such as mosquitoes) as the Earth warms. "There are now cases of dengue fever in the southern parts of Texas," he says George S. Stewart, the McKee Chair in Bacterial Pathogenesis and Head of the Department of Pathobiology in Animal Medicine at the University of Missouri. "As the temperature climbs, we locate malaria cases at higher altitudes and latitudes closer to the poles. and the bacterium that causes cholera, Vibrio cholerae, reproduces faster when temperatures rise.”

Unlike the zombie bacteria lurking in the icy lands, knowledge about the spread of modern diseases is much greater and there are proven ways to curb them: mapping trends, eliminating mosquito breeding areas, and using insecticides. It is understood that a dramatic reduction in fossil fuel emissions to combat climate change could combat both threats - the revival of ancient killer disease agents and the expansion of the distribution areas of infectious diseases - in one fell swoop.

25 תגובות

  1. discouraged
    Ms. Carey says unequivocally that there is climate change. She claims that the solutions are ineffective and another way should be sought. Her claim is that no dangerous extremes in the weather are expected - but that is not the danger.

    The Earth is not in danger, and neither is life on the Earth. This also includes the human race - we have survived harder things. But, a large population is in danger, including the population of entire countries.

    The damages of the warming are visible to all. Obviously there are people who prefer to live the good life, followed by the flood. It's a shame that such people reach positions of power.

  2. My "dear" father,
    Hebrew is indeed a difficult language, but:
    "Fundamentalist" means elementary in Hebrew,
    There is a difference between "blocking" or "muting" and limiting,
    The restriction is required to prevent vanity,
    There is a difference between the nonsense you publish and "different opinions" and that is the threshold,
    For example: an "apostate" is someone who is not a Muslim, and the inquisitors
    Our eyes (were not silent) Jews,

  3. to the "gatekeeper"
    Since this is a site where you are allowed to express opinions freely, there is no "threshold" here, so you have nothing to guard against.
    Your request to the site manager to block me is an example of "scientific proof", that you are actually a fundamentalist who does not tolerate opinions different from his own and therefore asks for help from the inquisitor to silence the infidel.

  4. discouraged
    Do you have any backup for your slander? Or are you just rambling like Safkan (who is also a liar with credentials)?

    The warming is real and the reasons are known. I think relying on a physicist who admits that he bases his opinions on half a day of Google searches is a bit... problematic.

  5. You can relax.

    Donald Trump will end global warming by defunding pseudoscientists for their studies on global warming due to carbon dioxide emissions. Trump appointed his daughter Ivanka to do an initial review of the state of research and the political forces fueling global warming scaremongering. It is likely that he will then convene a committee of experts (not experts from the Church of Global Warming who are locked on a dubious theory and do not allow free scientific discussion).

    Most probably the experts will not find convincing evidence of the dangers of global warming.

    When the deadline for budget cuts for global warming researchers approaches, their screams and threats of catastrophes will rise to all-time highs. What really scares the pseudoscientists? No, the peace of the world, they are scared by the cutting of their budgets. But it won't help, the budgets will be cut and the researchers will be forced to look for new areas of research.

    Here is a link to what a Nobel Prize winner in physics thinks. He tears apart all the central arguments of the global warming scaremongers. He brings food for thought (which will not enter the heads of scientists in the Church of Global Warming, because like other religious fanatics they will not let facts spoil their religion).

  6. It may be good for the site's circulation (for the advertisements), but there is a limit to how far a "know-it-all" can be allowed to spread nonsense, one such is my father, he knows everything on every subject, he has an understanding and an opinion, and every time he is ready to defend the nonsense he writes, that's why every Anyone who tries to argue with him is wasting time,
    Perhaps it is appropriate for the editor to explain to the "genius of the generation" his place and limit his comments...

  7. my father
    Your understanding of science is very worrying, and this may be the reason for your delusional opinions.
    In science there is no concept of proof at all! There are only testimonies (observations). Based on the observations, a hypothesis is assumed, and then experiments are performed to disprove the hypothesis. There is no politics and no emotions here.

    I don't understand - are there any of the points I described that are not true? Maybe stop talking in passwords already??

  8. for miracles
    This is exactly the problem, there are "evidences", "observations" and based on them we built hypotheses - but there is no scientific proof.
    Testimonies and findings can be explained in all kinds of ways, only when politics, interests, and feelings are involved... the findings are only explained in one direction and the other explanations are zealously hidden, and then it is religion and not science.

  9. my father
    There is evidence that the climate is warming, even though we were supposed to be in a cooling period.

    There is a lot of evidence that warming causes irreversible damage.

    There is evidence that PADH causes warming.

    There is evidence that the concentration of PADH is steadily increasing.

    There is evidence that the PAD in the atmosphere is a result of fossil fuels.

    Q. Did you buy land in Antarctica? 🙂

  10. Just to be clear, I do not think that the opponents of the theory are right or that there is no such thing as global warming.
    It's just that there is not enough evidence and it is permissible to think otherwise, that there is too much politics and brainwashing that neglect more important issues in the quality of the environment, and exaggerated apocalypse prophecies that there is no place for shock.
    And regarding the apocalypse prophecies I remembered Avi Bilzovsky's article on the subject - in the future it may be possible to add the prophecies about global warming to this article.

  11. No
    In science you need scientific evidence.
    Everything you wrote has no scientific proof. (there are only theories and political decisions)
    The only thing that has been proven, and with great difficulty, is that there is warming.
    But global warmings have also happened in the past on earth there is an ice age and after that warming cyclically for billions of years.
    There is no proof that it is because of man, and there is no proof at all that there is a greenhouse effect because of the CO2 that man produces, and there is no proof that it is not part of a cycle that does not depend on man, there is no knowledge of what will happen next if the trend continues or stops or reverses... it's all just theories.

  12. my father
    You're talking nonsense and it's hard to decide where to start trying to answer.
    The balance on Earth has been created for many, many years.
    The changes that the person makes are very fast and upset this balance. In the end there will be a new balance, but there is no reason to think that it will be suitable for the living of humans. A species will probably find a creature that will blend in with the new conditions that will be created, but it probably won't be us

  13. I have already heard many such apocalyptic prophecies in my life from the prophecies of Nostradamus to Bug 2000.
    The world should have been destroyed several times since I was born.
    For now, we only know that there is global warming (there have been global warmings and coolings in the past as well), and we are talking about an increase of maybe a tenth of a degree plus or minus in ten years.
    It has not been proven that this is because of the greenhouse effect, it has not been proven that this greenhouse effect, if it is the cause of the warming, is because of the PADH, and it has not been proven that the PADH that may be causing this effect is the PADH that is produced by man.
    And water desalination can be done with alternative energy, it's just a matter of money and decision.

  14. my father
    Understand - the earth is not in any danger. And you know what - life on earth is not in any danger either. The ones who are in danger are our children. In Israel, water is prayed, and this produces a lot of Pedah. So in a few decades, not only will we be short of water - we won't be able to pray either!

  15. I wrote that Iceland and Alaska and other areas will also warm up a little, this will be for the better, besides what will happen to the equatorial region that will expand, maybe areas of the world that are deserts today will become rainy....Has anyone thought of this?, or we should not talk about it.
    Since this is a very gradual warming of tenths of a degree over ten years, humanity has enough time and enough means to adapt to further changes. The earth has gone through ages of global warming and global cooling, and life has adapted, I have no doubt that the apocalyptic prophecies are a little (much) exaggerated.
    But since the issue reached UN resolutions and became a political issue, and the tireless preaching and brainwashing in all media channels has already caused it to turn from a scientific issue into a populist consensus, and almost a new religion, and a lot of money and a lot of respect are involved here and now with Trump's rise to power and the change of policy in the United States, it There is already a war between the political left and the political right...
    So it really doesn't matter what the truth is anymore, it is no longer possible to discuss this issue without emotions, either you are with us on the politically correct left or you are against us "extreme right". Just a fundamentalist religion.

  16. Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth.
    So if it becomes habitable it can be concluded that most of the rest of the globe will not be habitable. As far as I know, even the most pessimistic scenarios do not talk about warming that will increase the temperature until Antarctica reaches this state.
    Besides, Antarctica is not that big.
    I have a feeling that you, like many people, think Antarctica is bigger than it is because of how world maps are drawn. Because you draw a sphere flat, the allowances are distorted and it looks like Antarctica is as big as the rest of the continents.

  17. my father
    In the original "Superman" movie (1978) - Lex Luthor buys the entire strip of land east of the San Andreas Fault in California and causes an atomic explosion that causes an earthquake - his intention is that the entire strip of land west of the fault will fall into the sea and he will be the new owner of the resulting coastline.

    So I suggest you go and buy farmland in Antarctica - maybe you too will get rich? In any case - you don't care about everything you die on the way...

  18. Interesting is the proliferation of apocalyptic prophecies due to global warming.
    It is more interesting if there is someone who is able to see the glass as half full, and also find advantages in global warming, (which is probably inevitable) for example - the fact that the melting of the poles will lead to the possibility of the settlement of the Antarctic continent and cold areas of northern Canada, Alaska, and Iceland... which are now almost deserted by humans, or to break through New sea crossings in the Arctic regions will facilitate maritime transport...

  19. More frightening are bacteria from new strains that have developed resistance to antibiotics, and new viruses that have overcome the human immune system with evolution.
    Bacteria from the past are much less dangerous because they are not resistant to the simplest antibiotics, not even to sulfur preparations or penicillin.
    Also viruses - the older they are, the more likely the modern man is vaccinated against them.

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