Russian governors office said on Tuesday that 20 herders and members of their families have been infected amid an anthrax outbreak in Russia’s far-northern Yamalo-Nenets region.
The Governor’s Spokeswoman, Natalya Khlopunova, said that a total of 90 people from the area have been brought to a hospital in the regional capital, Salekhard, on the Arctic Circle.
“The outbreak, which the local government has linked to abnormally high temperatures in the region, has killed a 12-year-old boy and about 2,300 reindeer.
“Scientists believe that a heat wave in the region has awoken anthrax bacteria that had been lying dormant within the carcasses of long-deceased reindeer buried in the permafrost, which is now melting,’’ she said.
Khlopunova said that the last anthrax outbreak in the region was recorded 75 years ago, in 1941.
“Last month, a boy in Siberia’s Altai Mountains contracted bubonic plague apparently while skinning marmots after a hunt.
“The 10-year-old was helping his grandfather skin the rodents and accidentally cut himself in the process,’’ she said.
The spokeswoman said that the marmots, whose furs are sold as a cheap substitute for sable, have been known to carry the disease.
Khlopunova said that the last significant outbreak of the plague in Russia was recorded among marmot hunters in Siberia in the early 1900s.