The sleeping germs under the ice are waking up…
From the earliest times of human history, humans have been living side by side with bacteria and viruses. We have been able to prevent smallpox, Bubonic plague, while viruses and bacteria have come up with new ways to infect us in new ways. while viruses and bacteria have come up with new ways to infect us in new ways.
We have antibiotics for almost a century since the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming. In response, bacteria have evolved to resist antibiotics. There is no end to this war because we have spent so much time researching pathogens that we sometimes create natural stagnation.
Is Climate Change Releasing Ancient Frozen Diseases?
What if we suddenly came in contact with a deadly virus that is thousands of years old or infected with a germ we had never known before? Perhaps we’ve found unwanted germs. Climate change is melting thousands of years of icy permafrost, and melting permafrost is freeing the bacteria and viruses that have been dormant under the ice for so long.
In August 2016, a 12-year-old boy died of anthrax in a remote area of Siberia’s icy Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic, and at least 20 others were hospitalized. It is thought that a roe deer died of anthrax here 75 years ago, and the deer’s carcass was trapped in a layer of permafrost and turned into an anthrax trap. The deer’s carcass was there until the permafrost began to melt in the summer of 2016. As the ice melts, the anthrax germs spread from there to the surrounding water, soil and even the daily food chain. About 2,000 deer that came to eat grass in the area became infected with anthrax and a small number of humans became infected. The fear is that such infections are not isolated cases.
We’re melting the Arctic and reviving deadly germs
The warmer the earth, the faster the permafrost ice will begin to melt. Under normal conditions, about 50 cm of ice melts every summer. But now the earth’s temperature is rising at an unbridled rate, exposing many old layers of ice. Bacteria can survive long periods of time in the permafrost ice, even after millions of years they are found intact. Overall, it seems that the melting of the ice means the opening of a Pandora’s Box of potential pathogens. Temperatures in the Polar Regions are rising almost three times faster than in other parts of the world. Since the ice is piled up, the frozen soil is melting fast so the infectious germs stuck here can be freed.
“Permafrost is a sanctuary for microscopic microorganisms and viruses,” said Jean-Michel Claverie, an evolutionary biologist at AIX Marseille University in France. It is very cold here, there is no oxygen here and darkness reigns here. The germs of a terrible infectious disease that can infect humans or any animal are probably accumulated in layers of permafrost and they gave birth to a global epidemic in the past.
ancient anthrax waking up
In Siberia alone, more than a million deer died of anthrax in the early 20th century. It was not possible to bury so many bodies under the deep ground. They were forced to bury themselves on the ground. There are 7,000 such mass graves of dead deer scattered in northern Russia. The unknown fear is that anthrax is now lurking out of the deer carcasses as the ice penetrates the soil.
Dead people and animals have been buried in permafrost for hundreds of years. So it is easily conceivable that infectious germs can come out. For example, scientists are recently discovering the RNA of the Spanish flu virus from the body of a person who died of the Spanish flu in 1918 from an iceberg mass grave in Alaska. Smallpox and bubonic plague deaths were also buried in Siberia. In a 2011 study, Boris Revich and Marina Podolnaya wrote, “The melting of permafrost could lead to the return of infectious diseases from the bodies of 18th and 19th century infected people, especially where they were buried.”
In a 2005 NASA study, a team of scientists in Alaska revived 32,000-year-old bacteria from a frozen pond. The smallpox epidemic broke out in Siberia in the 1890s. About 40 percent of people in a city die of smallpox. So many bodies were buried in mass graves on the banks of the Kalima River, just below the ice. After 120 years, floodwaters began to break the banks of the Kalima River, and the rate of river erosion intensified as permafrost melted. The ‘Carnobacterium Pleistocene’ microorganism found in Alaska has accumulated in permafrost since the Pleistocene era when giant elephants covered in fur roamed the earth in great glory. Then, as soon as the ice melts, the microorganisms are released and spread around, and they are still intact. As soon as the microorganism is released, it becomes contagious.
In 1990, researchers at the State Research Center for Virology and Bacteriology in the Russian city of Novosibirsk began examining fossils of Stone Age humans found in the Siberian Gorni Altai region. In addition, they began testing samples of the bodies of those killed in the smallpox epidemic in the 19th century, buried in Permafrost, Russia. Researchers say they have found smallpox scars on the bodies. Although they did not find the smallpox virus, they were able to recover the smallpox DNA. This is certainly not the first time that frozen bacteria have returned to life on ice.
Before two years, scientists have revived 6 million-year-old bacteria from the ice sheet beneath a glacier in Beacon and Mullin mountain valleys in Antarctica. The same search found 1 million year old bacteria from ice. The hope, however, is that all bacteria will not return after being frozen in permafrost. But anthrax bacteria can come back, because anthrax creates a kind of shell for its own protection, which can survive for hundreds of years in a very hard and frozen state. Some bacteria can form their own hard shell and survive in ice for a long time, such as tetanus, Clostridium botulinum. Botulinum causes a rare disease called botulism that can lead to paralysis and even death. Some fungi can also survive long permafrost. Some viruses are almost immortal.
Scientists Wake Up Ancient Viruses Unknown to Medicine
In 2014, a team of researchers led by Michel Claverie identified two viruses, Pithovirus cybericum and Molivirus cybericum, frozen in Siberian permafrost 30,000 years ago. These two viruses are larger than the other viruses that can be seen with a conventional microscope. The two viruses were found 100 feet deep in the tundra basin. The virus becomes contagious as soon as it is revived. The hope for us is that these viruses only infect single-celled amoebae. However, research says that other viruses that can infect humans will wake up in exactly the same process. Larger viruses are more dangerous and almost impossible to eradicate.
Melting permafrost is not the only threat to global warming. The Arctic Sea’s frozen ice has been melting for years, creating a sea connection to Siberia’s northern coast. In addition, the industrial revolution has started anew in the area, industrial waste is being dumped directly into the sea, gold and other ore mining, oil and gas well drilling is becoming increasingly profitable. At the moment, the region’s environment is in danger, and the melting of permafrost is imminent, said Michel Claverie. However, extraction of minerals and drilling of oil wells can melt the ancient ice layer more quickly. If there is an infectious virus, they will be exposed and cause a catastrophe. The relatively large viruses are mainly responsible for the infection epidemic.
The other side says, since we know nothing about the upcoming germs, the risk cannot be ignored. “We and anyone else’s research shows that the germs are likely to come back, that they can be revived, that they can infect us,” said Claverie. I don’t know how they will come but they are likely to come. Infected bacterial infections may be cured with antibiotics, or antibiotics may not work for other bacteria. The virus may return. What is strange is that when the germs are absent for a long time, the human body’s immune system is not ready to fight against the germs. It means there is no enemy; there is no preparation for war. But if the germs come on suddenly (like corona is coming) then the human body will not be able to withstand the sudden attack (like now corona infection cannot be tolerated).