Russian heatwave thaws Siberian permafrost, releasing decades-old anthrax virus

40 people have been hospitalized, and 1,500 reindeer have been killed already

A massive heatwave across Russia this summer has resulted in the permafrost in Siberia to begin to melt.

With temperatures in the region raising ten degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal ranges for this time of year, bacteria that had been frozen there has begun to be released.

Anthrax, which is believed to have been in the Siberian permafrost since 1941, has been released, with reports of up to 40 people being hospitalized due to the outbreak.

The Washington Post reports that over 1,500 reindeer have also been killed since the bacteria has been released last week.

Reports in NBC indicate that the anthrax may have been released due to the thawing of reindeer carcasses that were killed by the bacteria over 75 years ago.

The govenor of the region, Dmitry Kobylkin, declared a state of emergency, with biological warfare troops deployed to the region. Kobylkin stated: "Now the most important thing is the safety and health of our fellow countrymen — the reindeer herders and specialists involved in the quarantine.”

Local newspaper The Siberian Times reported that the troops were deployed by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to carry laboratory tests on the ground, detect and eliminate the focal point of the infection, and to dispose safely of dead animals.