The next pandemic may come not from bats or birds but from matter in melting ice, according to new data.
Genetic analysis of soil and lake sediments from Lake Hazen, the largest high Arctic freshwater lake in the world, suggests the risk of viral spillover – where a virus infects a new host for the first time – may be higher close to melting glaciers.
The findings imply that as global temperatures rise owing to climate change, it becomes more likely that viruses and bacteria locked up in glaciers and permafrost could reawaken and infect local wildlife, particularly as their range also shifts closer to the poles.
Mother Nature is gonna get her revenge sooner or later.
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Fast-melting glaciers are releasing staggering amounts of bacteria into rivers and streams, which could transform icy ecosystems, scientists warn. https://www.sciencealert.com/rapidly-melting-glaciers-are-releasing-a-staggering-payload-of-unknown-bacteria
The researchers didn’t study individual strains of bacteria, only estimated their combined biomass, so they could not identify any species that might pose a threat to human health – nor did they determine whether microbes were active, dormant, damaged, or dead.
“The risk is probably very small, but it requires careful assessment,” microbiologist and study author Arwyn Edwards of Aberystwyth University in the UK told the BBC.