Anthrax–Russia–Global Warming

It’s a trifecta for media alarms with can’t-miss top lines like these in just the last two days:

Russian officials are blaming global warming for a recent Anthrax outbreak in the far north region of Yamal that hospitalized dozens of nomadic tribesmen and killed one 12-year-old boy.

Thawing Russian Arctic Permafrost Leads to Anthrax Outbreak
(that one adds in the permafrost bogeyman)

Climate Change Blamed for the Anthrax Outbreak in Russia

Etc., Etc., Etc

Sputnik News tells what you need to know (and said so back in May)

Global warming can uncover and expose anthrax cattle burial sites in the Arctic and cause the spread of dangerous infections, Russia’s Emergencies Ministry warned on Wednesday.

“Climatic anomaly impacts on permafrost zones, enhances the danger of exposing anthrax cattle burial grounds,” a ministry spokesman said.

There are more than 100,000 anthrax cattle burial sites in Russia, about 400 of which are located in the Arctic region, he said. (My bold)

Anthrax is an acute disease caused by Bacillus anthracis and affects both humans and animals. It can form dormant spores that are able to survive in harsh conditions for decades or even centuries, the spokesman warned.

Some Russian ministries and other government agencies are known for their tendency to issue dire warnings to ensure more federal funding, especially ahead of each new fiscal year.  (My bold)

MOSCOW, May 25 (RIA Novosti)

The Facts of the outbreak: 90 hospitalized, 20 cases confirmed. One Died.


The Sputnik News article is dated in 2011 (h/t manic) and provides a context for this recent news. The Tass story on August 1, 2016, tells of those infected and an investigation into the one death.  No mention of global warming.  That was added by BBC and others, based on  a comment by  a Russian WWF employee.

CNN has a factual report on this event here:


  1. joekano76 · August 4, 2016

    Reblogged this on TheFlippinTruth.


  2. peejos · August 5, 2016

    I’ll bet that there are anthrax burial sites all over Europe. There certainly are in the UK as many old farm hands will tell of. Getting involved with the Ministry was anathema and burying the carcase the quickest way of stopping an outbreak.


  3. manicbeancounter · August 5, 2016

    The Sputnik news article is dated 12:54 25.05.2011, so is five years old.

    Only 0.4% of the cattle burial sites are in the Arctic. There is an obvious reason why the burial sites should be more vulnerable to exposure than elsewhere.

    This leads to some obvious questions.
    1. Is the figure of >100,000 anthrax cattle burial sites in Russia correct?
    2. Could some of them be related to other factors? – E.g. diseased cattle being buried during to the great famines to prevent people eating them?
    3. How many of these sites are due to natural anthrax, and how many due to biological weapons strains?
    The 1979 Sverdlovsk anthrax leak is believed to have killed 100 people, and contaminated an area with a population of one million


    • Ron Clutz · August 5, 2016

      Thanks manic for catching the date I missed. I’ve added a footnote clarifying the timeline. Your questions are good ones. The informative (no agenda) CNN report includes this:
      “This would be the first anthrax outbreak in the area since 1941, said Anna Popova, chief state sanitary doctor of Russia. The territory has been free of the infection since 1968.”


  4. Sara Hall · August 5, 2016

    Could the recent human activities (oil and gas) on the Yamal peninsula just possibly have had something to do with disturbing the reindeer burial grounds? Also, I find it rather hard to believe that the soil those poor reindeer were buried in could have actually been permafrost at the time, so could I suggest that the climate was a little warmer back then?


  5. manicbeancounter · August 6, 2016

    The articles mention about burial of previous burials of human bodies and animal carcasses from previous outbreaks in shallow graves. The given for the shallow graves is due to the permafrost.
    There is probably another reason for reason for inadequate burials. The last outbreak was in 1941. The month is not given, but is likely to have been in the months when average temperatures are significantly above freezing. That is June to September. On June 22nd 1941 was the commencement of Operation Barbarossa, the biggest invasion in history. An outbreak of Anthrax in a remote area would have been neglected.
    Below are monthly average temperatures for the source of the outbreak (Berkeley ID#: 169875 SALEKHARD) for the summer of 1941.

    May 1.93, Jun 8.85, Jul 10.17, Aug 11.64, Sep 5.80

    Incidentally, July is usually the hottest month of the year. Of the 130 Julys on the temperature record from 1883 to 2013 (1905 is missing) July 1941 was the third coldest. (Jul 1997 9.79, Jul 1891 9.90). Average July temp is 14.23. August average is 11.37, so August 1941 was nothing unusual.


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