Researchers in Siberia have reported that rising temperatures are causing permafrost to melt thereby exposing mass graves of people who died in smallpox epidemics back in the 1890s. This is not the first time melting permafrost has given rise to modern illness. One child was killed and thousands of reindeer slaughtered due to an outbreak of the bacterium anthrax which was thought to be the result of infected bodies being released from the permafrost.
So far the smallpox virus itself has not been found but the bodies bear skin lesions consistent with those caused by smallpox and fragments of viral DNA have been found in tissue samples. Scientists are saying it’s possible that the virus could still be alive in these circumstances and therefore that smallpox could make a comeback! Okay, it sounds a bit unlikely but the scientific community hadn’t expected Ebola to be on the scale it was two years ago so maybe it’s time for a refresher…better to be to be safe than sorry.