30,000-Year-Old Virus Comes Back from the Dead

shutterstock_113494426While more scientists would have you believe that rising sea levels will be the cause of worldwide headaches in a few decades, a new discovery may literally cause humanity headaches in the near future. Researchers recently discovered a giant, 30,000-year-old virus frozen in the thawed permafrost of a frozen region in Siberia. This discovery comes on the heels of scientists warning of melting Polar Regions and rising sea levels.

Okay, so the virus is technically not harmful to humans. The ancient virus is named Pithovirus sibericum and only infects amoebas. However, this new discovery may lead to a number of other frozen viruses, bacteria, and previously extinct organisms that could threaten human health. This includes viruses that previously caused planet-wide epidemics, which only furthers the fear of an Armageddon virus.

Scientists have already discovered previous giant virus families: Megaviridae and Pandoraviridae. These types of viruses have 50-250 times as many genes as modern day viruses such as AIDS or the flu. For instance, Pithovirus has 500 genes in comparison to the 10 genes of AIDS.

The discovery of Frosty the Snow Virus is not a surprise. Giant frozen viruses have been found in thawing permafrost since 2003 and scientists are only now beginning to discover the nature of the organisms. Drilling and oil exploration in the Arctic is bridging the previous gap between modern immunizations and old world viruses. If there is a world-ending virus awoken from cryosleep, it will be a comfort knowing that history rarely repeats itself.

 

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