Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to the Guardian, unusually warm weather probably wouldn’t happen without our help.
Anthrax outbreak triggered by climate change sickens dozens in Arctic Circle
Seventy-two nomadic herders, including 41 children, were hospitalised in far north Russia after the region began experiencing abnormally high temperatures.
A 12-year-old boy in the far north of Russia has died in an outbreak of anthrax that experts believe was triggered when unusually warm weather caused the release of the bacteria.
The boy was one of 72 nomadic herders, including 41 children, hospitalised in the town of Salekhard in the Arctic Circle, after reindeer began dying en masse from anthrax.
Five adults and two other children have been diagnosed with the disease, which is known as “Siberian plague” in Russian and was last seen in the region in 1941.
More than 2,300 reindeer have died, and at least 63 people have been evacuated from a quarantine area around the site of the outbreak.
“We literally fought for the life of each person, but the infection showed its cunning,”the Yamal governor, Dmitry Kobylkin, told the Interfax news agency. “It returned after 75 years and took the life of a child.”
Anthrax spores can survive in frozen human and animal remains for hundreds of years, waiting to be released by a thaw, according to Alexei Kokorin, head of WWF Russia’s climate and energy programme.
“Such anomalous heat is rare for Yamal, and that’s probably a manifestation of climate change,” he said.
So how is Anthrax normally contracted?
Working with infected animals or animal products
Most people who get sick from anthrax are exposed while working with infected animals or animal products such as wool, hides, or hair.
Inhalation anthrax can occur when a person inhales spores that are in the air (aerosolized) during the industrial processing of contaminated materials, such as wool, hides, or hair.
Cutaneous anthrax can occur when workers who handle contaminated animal products get spores in a cut or scrape on their skin.
Eating raw or undercooked meat from infected animals
People who eat raw or undercooked meat from infected animals may get sick with gastrointestinal anthrax . This usually occurs in countries where livestock are not routinely vaccinated against anthrax and food animals are not inspected prior to slaughter.
In the United States, gastrointestinal anthrax has rarely been reported. This is because yearly vaccination of livestock is recommended in areas of the United States where animals have had anthrax in the past, and because of the examination of all food animals, which ensures that they are healthy at the time of slaughter.
A newly discovered type of anthrax is injection anthrax . This type of anthrax has been seen in northern Europe in people injecting heroin. So far, no cases of injection anthrax have been reported in the United States.
Although Russia has serious problems with drug abuse, we can hopefully rule out the injection route, given so many children in one area became ill.
The much more likely source of infection in this case is eating undercooked meat, from infected animals which have not been vaccinated. Consumption of raw meat and animal products is a cultural tradition in Siberia.
Blaming a few unusually hot days on climate seems a bit of a stretch. Tying “climate” to a small though deadly outbreak of an obviously endemic disease is nonsense. In my opinion, blaming “climate” is just a convenient means for the Russian branch of the WWF to try to associate a tragic though preventable healthcare disaster with their global warming narrative.