State media reports emergency is contained; 40 people hospitalized, over 1,200 reindeer dead
In what is being described as a 'natural outbreak,' anthrax has been reported across a large swath of Yamal, Siberia. Biological specialists were deployed to the region via military aircraft to contain the potential catastrophe as quickly as possible.
The bacterial infection, which can cause death if not treated with antibiotics, has ended up forcing 40 individuals into hospitals, over half of whom were children. It also killed off over 1,200 reindeer.
The first anthrax outbreak in the region since 1941, scientists suggest that a diseased animal from 75-plus years ago was exposed to reindeer and their herders in the nomadic region, via melting permafrost. If true it raises the odds that additional such events will occur, as the planet's climate continues to alter.
Officials are assuring that this outbreak has been contained, as evacuations were implemented to move the herders out of the hot zone. Those who may have been at-risk were also inoculated as a preventative measure, to assure all steps were taken.
Speculation suggests that, whether it be by God's hand, natural cycles or human activity, the climate is shifting. We can quibble over the causes (which is justified - this debate is far from over), but to deny that changes are occurring is folly.
All we can do is prepare for these kind of events, the best that we can. I do know one thing - we cannot count on governments to respond well to such crises; the efficiency with which this incident (appears) to have been handled is an exception, not the rule.
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