Siberia: 40 now hospitalized after anthrax outbreak in Yamal; more than 50% are children. (Siberiantimes).
A total of 40 people, the majority of them children, from nomadic herder families in northern Siberia are under observation in hospital amid fears they may have contracted the anthrax. Doctors stress that so far there are NO confirmed cases.
Up to 1,200 reindeer were killed either by anthrax or a heatwave in the Arctic district where the infection spread.
Specialists from the Chemical, Radioactive and Biological Protection Corps were rushed to regional capital Salekhard on a military Il-76 aircraft.
They were deployed by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to carry laboratory tests on the ground, detect and eliminate the focal point of the infection, and to dispose safely of dead animals.
The move confirmed the seriousness with which the authorities view the anthrax outbreak, the first in this region since 1941.
The army unit is equipped with military helicopters as well as off road vehicles for what Yamalo-Nenets governor Dmitry Kobylkin calls 'an extremely challenging task of liquidating the consequences - and disinfecting the focus - of the infection. I think this perhaps will be the first in the world operation cleaning up a territory of mass deer mortality over such distances in the tundra.'
Eight new people were admitted to hospital in Salekhard early on Friday, bringing the total to 40, said officials.
Earlier it was reported that 13 were in hospital.
'As of now, there is no single diagnosis of the dangerous infection,' said a spokesman for the governor of Yamalo-Nenets, Dmitry Kobylkin. 'Medics are taking preliminary measures even if there is the slightest doubt over the nomads' state of health.'
The 40 are all from a total of 63 nomads belonging to a dozen families who were at the site of the outbreak at Tarko-Sale Faktoria camp. The remaining nomads have been evacuated some 60 kilometres from the focus of infection in Yamalsky district.
A prolonged period of exceptionally hot weather in an Arctic Siberian district - with temperatures of up to 35C - has led to melting of permafrost in Yamalo-Nenets and other regions.
The outbreak of anthrax earlier this week is the first in this part of Russia since 1941. Read the full story here.
Related: Yamal anthrax outbreak may come from melting Tundra.