Global warming could free disease-causing viruses

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The discovery of an infectious giant virus that had been entombed in Siberian permafrost for 30,000 years has led scientists to warn of other disease-causing viruses and microbes that may escape from the frozen earth once it has melted. [s]The Independent[/s] reports that scientists in France and Russia discovered the giant virus in samples of frozen earth taken from the far north-east of Russia. Tests in the laboratory showed that the virus was capable of infecting amoeba, although it cannot infect multi-cellular animals and humans. Researchers at the [b]Russian Academy of Sciences and France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)[/b] said that the virus, buried 30 metres below ground, burst back into life when offered the ‘bait’ of living amoeba in a laboratory experiment. A CNRS spokesperson said: ‘These findings have important implications in terms of public-health risks related to the exploitation of mining and energy resources in circumpolar regions, which may arise as a result of global warming.’
Full report in The Independent

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