As the globe warms, so does the threat of disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and microorganisms (which have the common name) Pathogens) is brought back to life from the past.
The biggest concern is pathogens that previously caused serious illness in humans or animals, which could reactivate and spread again, Jorn Klein, professor of microbiology, epidemiology and infection control at USN, tells Dagbladet.
He says there are already examples of this happening.
– We know that pathogens like Bacillus anthracis, which causes anthrax, can live in permafrost for thousands of years. And in 2016, there was an outbreak of anthrax among reindeer in Siberia, in which 2,000 animals and one person died, he told Dagbladet.
– Are dangerous pathogens likely to be present in Norwegian glaciers, for example?
It’s possible, but it depends on the history of the glaciers and what might be trapped there. Klein responds that research and sampling will be necessary to give a definitive answer.
In an effort to understand the possible environmental impacts of what we might be hiding, an international team of researchers has digitally modeled the interactions between an ancient virus and modern bacteria in a recent study, published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.
Through tens of thousands of interactions, the team tracked how the virus affected species diversity in a bacterial community.
The study concluded that about 1% of ancient viruses caused significant disruptions to digital ecosystems. Either it increased diversity by up to 12%, or vice versa; Species diversity decreased by 32 percent.
Not only did the viral invaders survive, but they also evolved over time, throwing the system out of balance CNN.
– Many possibilities
Professor Klein describes the study in PLOS as comprehensive and innovative.
Although most of the conserved pathogens can survive and evolve in modern ecosystems, it is interesting to see that only a small percentage of them actually lead to significant changes in species diversity, he says.
Director Cory Bradshaw, at the Global Environment Laboratory at Flinders University in Australia, acknowledges that only 1% of pathogens causing disturbances may seem small, but he also points out that the number of cells that disappear from permafrost each year is 4 sextillion.
This is 4,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, or as CNN He writes – more than the number of stars in the galaxy.
– It’s a number that most people can’t understand. There are many, many possibilities for this to happen. Bradshaw tells CNN that the probability is small for one virus, but there are many possible viruses.
– happening now
Professor Klein believes it is possible that some pathogens in permafrost could cause significant changes in ecosystems, either by reducing or increasing species diversity.
This could happen if the permafrost thaws and releases pathogens, and they can then contact susceptible hosts, he says.
– Is this something about to happen now?
– Yes, with the ongoing climate change, permafrost is thawing at an ever-increasing pace, and this can lead to the release of ancient pathogens.
According to him, it seems that researchers at the international level are taking this risk seriously now, given the research and debate that is taking place on this topic.
However, it may be necessary to increase public attention and take measures to prepare for potential threats in Norway, he says.
It is believed that prevention, monitoring and research are key here.
Understanding the pathogens that may be present in permafrost, and having surveillance systems in place, can help us act quickly if an outbreak occurs.
According to Klein, perhaps the biggest and most immediate threat is antimicrobial resistance. There has been growing concern among researchers and health professionals around the world about bacteria that are resistant to many of the available antibiotics.
If the permafrost released ancient bacteria that carried resistance genes, it could potentially spread those genes to existing strains of bacteria, potentially exacerbating an already critical situation with antibiotic resistance, he says.
And the professor adds: – This resistance can make it more difficult to treat common infections and increase deaths from diseases that were previously easy to treat.
Don’t worry about the risk of infection
In the past, there have been reports of researchers discovering so-called “zombie viruses,” a term given to viruses because they can apparently rise from the dead.
In contact with a Stady And starting in 2022, European scientists wanted to prove that “zombie viruses” released from melting permafrost could pose a potential threat to humans.
It should be noted that the virus examined in the current study only infects single-celled organisms.
However, researchers believe there is a risk that permafrost may hide viruses that could spread to humans and other animals.
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