Two more Anthrax outbreaks hit northern Siberia due to thawing permafrost. (SiberianTimes). HT: Crof.
The Yamalo-Nenets region has suffered not one but three separate outbreaks of lethal anthrax since 7 July, with bloodsucking insects - especially gadflies and mosquitoes - playing a key role in the spread, we can confirm.
A strong new warning from scientists suggests that there is a 'dangerous' risk of infection across this entire permafrost area.
There was worldwide coverage last month when Russian bio- and chemical-warfare troops were deployed to deal with the first case of the infection since 1941.
Now it is clear that there were a total of two outbreaks on the Yamal peninsula, and a third east of the Gulf of Ob.
Previously, only one focal point was acknowledged, around Lake Yarato.
Now scientists say that the epicentre of this initial outbreak was in a privately-owned herd of reindeer at nearby Lake Pisyoto on 7 July, while a second outbreak occurred some 100 kilometres or 62 miles southeast at Novy Port, on the Gulf of Ob.
The last, where the infection was detected on 3 August, was at Pyakyakhinskaya in Tazovsky district, a distance of some 250 km or 155 miles east of the original infection.
Our map shows the three locations. (See Top Of Post)
Officials say that the summer anthrax infections led to one fatality, a 12 year old boy, along with the death of 2,349 reindeer and at least four dogs.
Crucially, the study also established that the infection started in thawed, contaminated soil, rather than emanating directly from decades-old poisoned reindeer carcasses or even human remains in graveyards, as was earlier believed.
This, in turn, means that controlling new outbreaks in a warming climate is virtually impossible, other than by mass vaccinations of people and animals.
'Due to the wide spread of anthrax in the past, almost the entire territory of Yamal district is dangerous in terms of anthrax,' said a report from the All-Russian Research Institute of Veterinary Virology and Microbiology, part of the Russian Agricultural Academy.
The soil originally became infected because of numerous anthrax outbreaks, specifically in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
'The insects - and we are mostly speaking about gadflies - bite infected animals and transmit anthrax spores to another animal.
'In some cases it can even be corpse flies which transmit the spores from the carcasses of dead animals. A human can also contract anthrax this way, but this time we had no such cases. The insects spread the disease mostly around the first foci.'
Vaccinations of reindeer, begun in Soviet times, were halted in 2007, but now all animals are to be injected. Six districts of Yamalo-Nenets
Autonomous Region have 59 known burial sites of animals which died of anthrax in 1941 or during earlier decades.
Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets has demanded that compulsory vaccinations must be introduced for all groups deemed at risk. 'If people work with animals they must be vaccinated against anthrax,' she said. 'We are dealing now with an outbreak of anthrax [in Yamal] and we have found out that no one was vaccinated in this region.'
She said: 'Professional groups can become a source and transmitters of all infectious diseases that occur in this country.'
Some teachers and tutors working at childcare centres 'are not even vaccinated against chickenpox and measles. This is outrageous. They become infected together with the children and they transmit the disease. The consequences are dramatic. This must not be tolerated.'