Long-forgotten source of anthrax leads to the death of thousands of reindeer

Reindeer. Source: LornaRphoto, flickr.

RUSSIA—A 75-year-old reindeer carcass sparked a debate over anthrax and endangered a culture.

After this specific strain of anthrax thawed out from a reindeer body once frozen in the permafrost of western Siberia. Russian officials euthanized a number of reindeer  in an attempt to beat the anthrax outbreak and plan to kill more. This will directly affect how the Nenet society survives into the modern age, according to a NPR article published on October 12, 2016.

When the reindeer body thawed out by rising global temperatures the bacterial disease reentered the modern world, infecting 100 people, and leading to the death of one boy and 2,3000 reindeer so far.

The Russian government plans to  kill a quarter million more reindeer by January 2017, according to The Siberian Times.

“The more dense the animal population is, the worse the disease transfer medium [and] the more often animals get sick,” said the Deputy Head of Russia’s Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service Nikolai Vlasov to The Siberian Times.

Anthrax begins with the Bacillus anthracis bacteria. The spores of this infectious bacteria survive in soil, fauna and water. It spreads when animals or people breath or eat the spores. Infected livestock and humans can receive medical help through antibiotics, according to the CDC’s website.

If the reindeer population does drastically decrease, the Nenets, a group of nomadic people in the region, will possibly lose their way of life. The Nenets are the only culture who traditionally raise reindeer and herd them from pasture to pasture across Siberia.

Even if the Russian government chooses not to kill more reindeer, there will still be significant effects to the Nenet culture and the spread of anthrax.




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