Dangers of Thawing Permafrost: 6 Prehistoric “Zombie Viruses” That May Be Unleashed
With the continuous rise of global warming, permafrost is melting rapidly, thereby releasing pathogens that were safely frozen for thousands of years. These pathogens are popularly referred to as “zombie viruses.” Scientists are currently concerned that some of these ancient viruses, which were previously eradicated, could resurface and cause a significant epidemic that could cause mass extinction.
What is permafrost?
Permafrost is a layer of ice that is below the soil, and it has been frozen for centuries. It is predominantly found in the Arctic and Antarctic regions of the world. Over the years, this icy layer has preserved smallpox, bubonic plague, flu, and anthrax, as well as the bones and tissues of ancient animals and humans.
What are “zombie viruses”?
Zombie viruses are a classification of viruses that are known to survive in harsh conditions, such as low temperatures and radiation, for centuries. Scientists have identified more than a hundred of these viruses, and they are a significant cause for concern because they can potentially become a pandemic, as we have seen with COVID-19. The virus has been frozen for millennia and has never encountered the human immune system.
What are the 6 dangers of thawing permafrost?
1. Anthrax: Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. It is commonly spread through livestock. In 2016, a sixteen-year-old boy died after contracting anthrax from a reindeer buried in the permafrost for more than 75 years.
2. Smallpox: Smallpox is a contagious virus that was eradicated in 1980. However, the permafrost can still contain the virus, preserved for centuries, and exposure can cause an outbreak.
3. Spanish Flu: The Spanish Flu pandemic killed millions of people worldwide, yet the virus was eradicated in 1918. However, researchers have discovered that the virus was preserved in the permafrost and could still cause an epidemic.
4. Bubonic Plague: The bubonic plague ravaged Europe in the 14th century, wiping out nearly a third of the population. Researchers have identified that the bacterium is preserved in the permafrost and could still be a threat in the future.
5. Influenza: Over the years, the influenza virus has caused several epidemics worldwide, and the permafrost could still contain the H1N1 virus, which claimed millions of lives in the 1918 pandemic.
6. Giant viruses: Researchers have discovered giant viruses in the permafrost, and they are considered one of the possible zombie viruses that could cause an epidemic.
The dangers posed by thawing permafrost cannot be underestimated, and the threats of the zombie viruses are real. Scientists are currently working hard to find ways to prevent these viruses from being released and also develop vaccines to help combat these viruses if they ever resurface. Therefore, it’s crucial to prioritize proper measures such as the adoption of eco-friendly habits, reducing carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of global warming, and ensuring proper handling and storage of any ancient or dangerous materials found in the permafrost.
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Summary: Thawing permafrost is posing a significant threat as the permafrost holds several pathogens that were safe and preserved for thousands of years. As the ice melts, these pathogens become active, and that could lead to an epidemic. In this article, we highlighted six prehistoric “zombie viruses” that could cause an outbreak. The article stresses the importance of finding ways to prevent these viruses from being released and also developing vaccines to combat them. Additionally, we have provided some measures we can take to minimize the thawing of the permafrost. #HEALTH