Cell-Infecting virus Zombies Discovered in Permafrost
Fears about the emergence of deadly viruses are heightened by the finding of a zombie virus in permafrost as the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps melt due to global warming. A newly discovered cell-infecting virus has been discovered, and its discharge into the environment could cause a global pandemic.
Soil that has been frozen for at least two years is considered permafrost. Around a quarter of the land in the Northern Hemisphere is covered by this massive reservoir of carbon dioxide and methane. The thawing of permafrost due to rising global temperatures is a major concern because it can lead to the unleashing of viruses that have been dormant for thousands of years.
Researchers in Siberia have isolated a novel virus called Pithovirus sibericum that has been dormant in permafrost for more than 48,500 years. The virus, measuring around 1.5 micrometers in length and 0.5 micrometers in width, is large enough to be visible under a microscope. Giant virus because it dwarfs common viruses like HIV and influenza.
Permafrost Melt Raise Fears for Potential Release
Concerns have been raised regarding the potential emergence of large viruses from permafrost when the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps melt due to global warming. As these viruses exclusively infect amoebas and other single-celled creatures, they pose no immediate threat to humans. If they were released into the wild, however, they might change into forms that are dangerous to people.
The impact of this and other viruses that have been frozen in permafrost on human health is unclear. The accelerating melting of permafrost around the world due to climate change presents a serious threat of unleashing long-dormant viruses into the modern world.
Exactly what are these “zombie viruses”?
Infections are considered “zombie viruses” if latent virus particles can become active again after being stored in cold temperatures for a long time. They can infect cells without being recognized by the immune system because of the genetic material they contain.
As we lack the means to combat old pathogens that may have changed to become resistant to our current therapies, the spread of a zombie virus would have disastrous consequences.
When it comes to stopping epidemics, what steps are being taken?
Researchers from all around are keeping tabs on permafrost ecosystems to assess any threats posed by the thawing ice caps. The World Health Organization (WHO) has already published warnings about the threats presented by permafrost thawing as a result of climate change.
Improving surveillance systems to track temperature shifts and microbial diversity in permafrost ecosystems is a crucial next step. By knowing when outbreaks are likely to happen, scientists will be able to take preventative measures well in advance of a full-scale pandemic.
In conclusion, the concerns linked with climate change-induced melting of Earth’s polar regions are highlighted by the discovery of a zombie virus in Siberian permafrost. As the Earth warms, ancient bacteria that have been frozen for eons in its frigid depths may emerge and pose tremendous hazards if we don’t act fast to prevent further damage from global warming.
Globally coordinated efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increased funding for research into how to better prepare for potential pandemics caused by ancient viruses released from melting Arctic ice caps and other previously inaccessible ecosystems on Earth are both urgently needed.
As a result, the actions we do today could end up saving our civilization tomorrow.