tass.ru/proisshestviya/3513398). So fboy has died and another 115 have been hospitalized, although as of yesterday only 24 of those in hospital have been confirmed as suffering from anthrax.
Moscow has sent in military units to burn the infected reindeer bodies. So far 2349 of these have been identified. And fires are burning throughout the region in an attempt to stop the spread of the contagion (siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/n0699-tundra-ablaze-as-reindeer-carcasses-infected-with-deadly-anthrax-are-incinerated/).
The task is enormous because new bodies keep surfacing. “There are thousands of such cattle graves across Russia and many of them are inside the Arctic circle,” according Sergey Netesov, a virologist at Novosibirsk State University. People avoid the areas where these animals are buried for a time but then gradually forget – and are infected.
At present, he says, his colleagues are studying animal corpses from a village where an smallpox outbreak was known to have occurred in the 1890s. At that time, he says, some 40 percent of the population died of that disease to now, “only some fragments of the virus’ DNA” have been found, but these efforts suggest Russian scholars and officials are worried.
Any such outbreaks would have a devastating impact on the numerically small peoples of the region, but because of travel between the regions in which they live and the rest of Russia, travel driven in most cases by prospecting for oil, gas and other natural resources, it is likely that any outbreak, even of a disease like smallpox, could easily spread to the Russian population as a whole.