(ORDO NEWS) — The pole of cold turns into a pole of heat! This summer in Yakutia, in the city of Verkhoyansk, a temperature record was set – plus 38 degrees Celsius. Abnormally hot weather was also in other cities of the Arctic. It turns out to be very dangerous.
Firstly, it is in the Arctic that many cyclones, storms and hurricanes originate. Any climate change is fraught with natural disasters. Secondly, the permafrost is melting. And in the Arctic, they have always built taking into account the frozen soil, hard as a stone. And now all buildings are under threat – roads, pipelines, residential buildings and industrial structures.
But it is even more dangerous that deadly viruses and bacteria that have slept there for years and even millennia are emerging from the thawed interior of the earth. Could they cause a new pandemic on the planet? And does a person have a chance to escape from ancient infections?
In August 2016, an outbreak of anthrax occurred in Yamal. One boy from a family of reindeer breeders died, 20 people became infected. The outbreak was caused by abandoned cattle burial grounds. A hundred years ago, the bodies of dead reindeer were left there for several decades. Scientists have counted one and a half million corpses abandoned in the permafrost. Because of the hot summer, they thawed out and became the prey of wild animals. It turned out that the anthrax pathogen remained in the bodies of dead animals, “came to life” and was transmitted to humans.
Permafrost occupies two-thirds of the territory of Russia. But it gradually recedes. Over the past quarter century, the average temperature in the Arctic has increased by 2-3 degrees. And now microorganisms that have been sleeping in it, not hundreds, but thousands of years, are free!
In 1978, the Soviet scientist Sabit Abyzov, at an international symposium in Austria, shocked his colleagues with a sensational statement: microorganisms remained in the permafrost, moreover, they are viable! Indeed, in the age-old ice there are no sharp changes in temperature, oxygen and sunlight do not penetrate there. This is an ideal refrigerator for life forms that can stop metabolism and go into hibernation – plant seeds, fungal spores, bacteria. Once in a more favorable environment, many of them woke up, began to feed and reproduce.
The first victim of the “thawed” virus was allegedly 25-year-old teacher Zachary Peterson, who helped archaeologists excavate an 800-year-old log cabin in Alaska. At the end of the expedition, he suddenly noticed a red spot on the front of his leg. The stain hurt and grew rapidly in size. The teacher was rushed to the hospital.
It turned out that Peterson had contracted an infection called seal finger. The young man picked her up from a thawed seal carcass, which he found at the excavation site. The seal was killed 800 years ago, but the causative agent of the infection was alive and active. The teacher was saved by a loading dose of modern antibiotics.
The number of unfrozen old-new viruses is growing. In the Canadian mountains of Selween, researchers took samples from ice layers up to four and a half thousand years old and found two ancient viruses in them.
One turned out to be similar to one of the modern viruses that infect insects, and the other to a pest of plants and fungi. They managed to “infect” the tobacco shoots. While both pathogens want to revive in the laboratory.
And in the American state of New Mexico, an ancient bacterium was discovered that is not afraid of modern antibiotics! Scientists explored the deepest cave in the United States and found microorganisms at a depth of 300 meters that had been isolated there for more than 4 million years.
During the time of coexistence and struggle for life with other inhabitants of the cave, the ancient bacteria acquired such immunity that now they are resistant to 70% of antibiotics created by humans. And they can transfer this quality to other bacteria, including those that cause fatal diseases, such as plague or cholera.
And then a pandemic of a planetary scale threatens humanity! After all, we will be completely defenseless against the formidable microscopic creatures, as in the era before the invention of antibiotics.
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