Melting Permafrost Could Release Frozen Smallpox
It’s no longer on ice. Authorities investigating a thaw-induced anthrax outbreak in Siberia have discovered traces of something even more alarming — smallpox. Once one of the world’s most dreaded pathogens, smallpox was declared eradicated in 1977. But researchers have found 120-year-old corpses, from the time of a major smallpox epidemic, exposed by melting permafrost — and found fragments of the virus’ DNA. This year’s record-breaking melt, which has already been linked to the spread of anthrax spores, could also expose an abandoned U.S. nuclear site in Greenland.