Everything you need to know about the Zombie Virus in the permafrost of Siberia
The release of hazardous ancient microbes buried deep beneath the permanently frozen zone known as permafrost is now the main concern of climate change, as opposed to earlier concerns about the number of greenhouse gases being released from the Northern Hemisphere’s frost melting due to this effect.
According to researcher Jean-Marie Alempic from the French National Centre for Scientific Research, releasing the bacteria into the environment would represent a serious risk to public health. The oldest of the 13 ancient viruses that the scientists were able to resurrect was an amoeba virus that had been dormant beneath a lake for 48,500 years.
The deadly frozen discovery
International scientists have issued a warning that a new public health concern could result from the permafrost’s irreversible thawing brought on by climate change. The French, Russian, and German researchers claimed they had discovered and revived 13 new “zombie viruses” in a report that was released to the online repository bioRxiv but has not yet been peer-reviewed. These viruses were identified from seven various ancient Siberian permafrost samples.
One virus had lain underwater frozen and latent for about 50,000 years.
The researchers discovered that even after thousands of years, the diseases are still contagious.
Scientists on board with the issue
All 13 viruses were found to still have the ability to develop into pathogenic organisms by the scientists using live single-cell amoeba cultures. In addition, the researchers disclosed that nine out of the thirteen objects cited in the report are thought to be tens of thousands of years old. Other viruses were discovered in mammoth wool and a Siberian wolf’s intestines, both of which were preserved in the Siberian permafrost. The potential threat that these infectious agents may represent when they are eventually released into the atmosphere needs to be further investigated.
How Scary can be the zombie virus for the public?
Scientists have discovered that all “zombie viruses” have the potential to be contagious, making them a “health danger” in researching living cultures. They speculate that as permafrost continues to melt, long-dormant viruses will continue to emerge like a microbial Captain America, causing new pandemics similar to COVID-19.
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Therefore, they add, “it is legitimate to consider the possibility of old virus particles still being infectious and returning to the population due to the thawing of ancient permafrost layers.” The organic material released by the thawing ice breaks down into carbon dioxide and methane, intensifying the greenhouse impact and hastening the melt. Sadly, this creates a vicious cycle.
The paper noted that it is likely that the thawing of permafrost that is eventually much older than 50,000 years will release unknown viruses upon thawing in the future. “Without the need to embark on such a risky project, we believe our results with Acanthamoeba-infecting viruses can be extrapolated to many other DNA viruses capable of infecting humans or animals,” the paper added.
“It is still impossible to predict how long these viruses might remain contagious after being exposed to outside circumstances (UV light, oxygen, heat), or how probable it will be that they will come into contact with and infect a suitable host during that time.
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Frequently asked questions
The specialists issued a warning, stating that some of these “zombie viruses” have already claimed lives and might be fatal to others. A child died and many more were hospitalized in 2016 after an anthrax epidemic in Siberia.
When the ice melts and thaws, the chemicals and germs trapped in permafrost are freed. Climate change is to blame for this, which could also result in the spread of more antiquated viruses.
The story claims that to study the emerging creatures, scientists have, maybe bizarrely, raised some of these alleged “zombie viruses” from the Siberian permafrost.
These pathogens were given the term “zombie viruses” by scientists. The team of scientists from France, Germany, and Russia claimed that after spending years locked in a freezing environment, these viruses continued to be contagious.