Any thoughts on (vanishing) glaciers as repositories for viruses and bacteria?

  • 2 Replies

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.



  • Guest
Glaciers are one of the repositories for viruses and bacteria.  They're melting faster now (regardless of the cause), and this means a shortening of the "repository cycle" for these viruses and bacteria becoming entrapped and then re-introduced into the world.  Shades of Cthulhu!

Has anyone heard/read any concerns about the shortening of this cycle or what sorts of diseases we might see sooner than would normally happen?  Has anyone caught the "Neanderthal flu" or the "Cro Magnon disease"?

Ice as a reservoir for pathogenic human viruses: specifically, caliciviruses, influenza viruses, and enteroviruses

A Novel Bacterial Species Is Found Trapped In 120,000-Year-Old Ice


Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 8751
    • View Profile
Never say never but...
When they went looking in the ice on Svalbard (sp?)for flu from the 1918 epidemic they didn't find it. They found the bodies of the poor souls who died from it but they were badly decomposed- they were not buried as deeply as the scientists had hoped.
Imagine Mr Cro Magnon who died from some nasty disease and was buried by his tribe.
For many years he has lain undisturbed but, as the glaciers retreat his body gets close to the surface. Eventually he pops up and the bugs he has been carrying all this time meet modern man
Well, that only really works if he was somehow buried under a glacier. (Not impossible if he fell through ice and was carried by a stream or some such)
In the years during which the glacier pulled back he would have got steadily warmer each Summer. By the time he was thawed enough to surface he would have been near the surface for a while. That would have meant he thawed each Summer and the rest of the bacteria present would have had time to decompose his body. It's unlikely that any pathogenic bacteria or virus would survive that process.
Please disregard all previous signatures.


Offline Spannerman

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 26
    • View Profile
Would these bacteria have the ability to flourish once unfrozen? The whole area will be wet and cold, with a dry air. This is not suitable conditions for the bacteria.