An outbreak of anthrax has killed a 12-year old boy and infected 21 of the nearly 90 people hospitalised in the remote far north of Russia.
Anthrax is a deadly disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which is encapsulated in a hard, rod-shaped shell.
The anthrax outbreak is believed to have triggered due to extreme warm weather caused by an unusual heatwave that melted permafrost in the Yamal-Nenets region, thereby emanating significantly fatal spores from the soil.
It occurred after the temperatures rose up to 35°C for one long month, which resulted in melting of the upper layers of the permanently frozen soil, as well as sparked wildfires, reported ABC News.
The spores are naturally found in the soil and usually infect animals or cattle that ingest or inhale them while grazing.
However, human beings are infected from contact through breathing in the spores, through cuts in the skin or by eating contaminated food.
The 12-year old boy is reported to be the first fatality in the region caused by the bacterial disease over the last 75 years, reported The New York Times.
Yamal-Nenets Governor was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying: “We literally fought for the life of each person, but the infection showed itself to be cunning. It returned after 75 years and took the life of a child.”
According to the regional authorities, the spread of anthrax disease has killed more than 2,300 reindeer.
Image: Photomicrograph of a gram stain of the bacterium Bacillus anthracis that causes anthrax infection. Photo: courtesy of CDC.