Global warming activates viruses in Arctic

Global warming activates viruses in Arctic

September 01, 2021

So far, epidemics in the permafrost are impossible, but scientists fear that the situation may change.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Climate change could encourage viruses in the Arctic to become more active and learn to infect new hosts. This is the conclusion made by Canadian scientists after researching the largest Arctic lake Hazen.

The researchers collected soil and sediment from the lake. In the RNA and DNA samples, they found traces of viruses and their potential hosts, including animals, plants and fungi.

“The researchers have created a new algorithm that estimates the likelihood of co-evolution or symbiosis between unrelated groups of organisms. The results showed that in places with a lot of melt water, the likelihood of symbiosis is increased”, says the bioRxiv scientific article archive.

According to experts, now the Arctic is not threatened with a pandemic of viral diseases, since there are no vectors, for example, mosquitoes. But due to global warming, the situation may change. In addition to the fact that the glaciers will begin to melt, many species of animals will migrate to the Arctic regions, in a less hot climate. Consequently, there will be more objects for possible infection.

The viruses found by Canadian scientists are not dangerous to humans. But the true risk of climate change remains to be assessed.

This is not the first time that global warming has been linked to an increased risk of an epidemic. So, in 2016, an outbreak of anthrax occurred in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Districts. Due to the abnormally hot summer, the cattle burial grounds, which had been under permafrost for decades, thawed out, and the bacteria became active. At that time, 12-year-old boy died of the disease, another 96 people were hospitalized, and more than 2.3 thousand wild reindeer also died.

Earlier we wrote that due to high temperatures in Greenland, more than eight billion tons of ice melted per day. Global warming, as scientists warn, is the main cause of abnormal natural phenomena. Despite all the experts’ arguments, a quarter of Russians do not believe in warming: they are sure that scientists have entered into a conspiracy.

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Text: Ekaterina Elkanova, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko

September 01, 2021

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