Boy Dies in Siberia Anthrax Outbreak Linked to Thawed Reindeer Corpse

Reindeer pull a sleigh in Russia in a 2011 photo. Photo: Elen Schurova / Wikimedia Commons

MOSCOW — An outbreak of anthrax in Siberia that has hit nomads, killing a young boy, was been traced to a long dead reindeer exposed by melting of permafrost, BBC reported Wednesday.

The death of a 12-year-old nomad was the first Anthrax fatality reported in Russia in 75 years, the regional governor’s office said Tuesday.

A 12-year-old nomad died of anthrax and 20 more people have been diagnosed with it following the outbreak in a remote area, according to the office of Yamalo-Nenets governor Dmitry Kobylkin. Hundreds of nomadic reindeer herders have been evacuated to the regional capital, Salekhard, for treatment, and 90 of them have been hospitalized.

More than 2,300 reindeer have died in the outbreak in the region 2,000 kilometers northeast of Moscow. Kobylkin said all reindeer in the area have now been vaccinated and the deaths have stopped.

He also sought to dispel fears that anthrax could spread to a wider area.

“There is no epidemic in Yamal,” Kobylkin said. “Only a small area was quarantined. The overwhelming majority of the nomads from the quarantined territory are healthy but Yamal doctors provide them with preventive treatment.”

A Nenet nomad child with reindeer in background. Photo: Oyvind Ravna / Wikimedia Commons
A Nenet nomad child with reindeer in background. Photo: Oyvind Ravna / Wikimedia Commons

The government will earmark 90 million rubles (47 million baht) to help the nomads, who are indigenous to the remote region, build new homes in a new settlement. Yamal’s nomads live in temporary dwellings called chums that are typical for the nomadic people of Siberia as well as parts of Mongolia and China.