Boy killed 'after lethal infection 'awoke' in human graveyard due to unprecedented heat wave'.
'I was informed about the death of the boy in our hospital. There are no words to express my condition. I feel sorry, I pass my condolences to his parents'. Picture: Press Service of Yamalo-Nenetsk Governor's Office
The boy, Denis, died on Saturday from the virulent intestinal form of anthrax after eating infected venison. His grandmother died a day earlier, but as yet the cause is not established.
Eight other people are now confirmed to be suffering from anthrax, including three children, according to preliminary diagnoses in the outbreak on the Yamal Peninsula in northern Siberia.
The dead boy was a member of a reindeer herding family.
A total of 72 people are now in hospital, a rise of 32 since Friday, under close observation amid fears of a major outbreak. 41 of those hospitalised are children as Russia copes with a full scale health emergency above the polar circle which has also killed thousands of reindeer.
A total of 72 people are now in hospital, a rise of 32 since Friday. Picture: Press Service of Yamalo-Nenetsk Governor's Office
The majority of samples taken from families of reindeer herders at the scene of the anthrax outbreak in the Arctic have proved negative, yet medics are closely observing all people admitted to hospital from the infected area.
The reports on fatalities suggest that the grandmother perished on Friday at her nomadic camp, yet news only came out today.
Local governor Dmitry Kobylkin said: 'I was informed about the death of the boy in our hospital. There are no words to express my condition. I feel sorry, I pass my condolences to his parents.
'God knows, we made strenuous efforts from the first day, did everything possible, to save the lives of everyone. We just fought for the life of each.
'But the infection was wily, returning 75 years later, it took the child's life.'
The cause of the anthrax outbreak could have been infected human remains from a local Nenets burial ground. Pictures: Znak.com, Vesti Yamal, Prof Florian Stammler
The governor urged local people to carefully follow doctors' recommendations. 'We will beat this infection. We are not alone, many people help us. Today we all have to be careful - and very careful - not to give any chance to this infection.'
The boy was rushed to hospital but medics were unable to save him.
Analysis of the cause of his death has been confirmed as anthrax, but the reason for the grandmother's demise is not yet known.
The Yamal governor's office was unaware of the reported fatalities when the first media claims appeared.
In a new development, the cause of the anthrax outbreak could have been infected human remains from a local burial ground, officials have admitted.
Until now, the deadly disease was believed to have been caused by hot weather melting the permafrost and exposing the corpse of a contaminated reindeer. Today it was revealed that a cemetery close to last month's shock outbreak, the first in 70 years in Yamalo-Nenets region, is now under suspicion too.
Russia's chief infections doctor Irina Shestakova was rushing to the region today. Pictures: Vesti Yamal, Press Service of Yamalo-Nenetsk Governor's Office
It was also disclosed that the number of reindeer suspected of dying from anthrax poisoning in the last 10 days or so is 2,349, almost double the figure given when the emergency was first announced.
Some 4,500 animals have been given vaccinations against the infection, with plans to boost this figure to 41,000 in a concerted bid to stop the lethal disease spreading.
Meanwhile, the carcasses of diseased reindeer are being incinerated at high temperature to prevent a spread of infection.
The operation is being spearheaded by the Russian Army's biological warfare troops who are wearing full scale protective gear as they deal with the anthrax-infected animals.
Russia's chief infections doctor Irina Shestakova was rushing to the region today.
Emergency teams from the army, Emergencies Ministry, and Health Ministry are on the ground in Yamal in a major operation to prevent a spread. Pictures: Russian Ministry of Emergencies
In a worrying development, veterinarians have identified the burial ground - pictured - that they fear is the source of the current infection.
It is an old Nenets cemetery in 40 kilometres from the current centre of the infection. In contrast to Soviet and Orthodox funerals, the bodies are not buried deep in the earth. Instead the traditional Nenets custom was to place them in a wooden box, a kind of coffin, on an open hill.
Now the concern is that in the unprecedented recent heatwave - with a prolonged period where temperatures were between 25C and 35C in this Arctic location - anthrax spores were released into the air and carried by the wind.
Governor's press secretary Nadezhda Noskova told The Siberian Times: 'We are working out all the versions of what has happened. The first version is that due to the very hot weather permafrost thawed and bared the carcass of an animal which died from anthrax long ago.
'The other version is that it could have been a human body. The point is that Nenets and Khanty peoples do not bury their dead in the ground.
'They put them into the wooden coffins - they resemble boxes - and place them on a stand or hillock.
'The old cemetery could be also the source of the disease.'
She confirmed that the last case of anthrax in the region was in 1941, and that since 1968 Yamal has been declared clear of anthrax.
The operation is being spearheaded by the Russian Army's biological warfare troops. Pictures: Russian Ministry of Emergencies
The European Union carried out its own checks for anthrax in 2001 ahead of venison export approval for the EU being given to company Yamal Reindeers.
It was reported on Monday that there are now 72 people in hospital under observation, a rise of 32 since Friday night.
Emergency teams from the army, Emergencies Ministry, and Health Ministry are on the ground in Yamal in a major operation to prevent a spread.
Vice-governor Mikhail Kagan travelled with a mobile military unit for a close inspection of the infected area.
Their aim was to define borders of the site where dead animals will be destroyed. A field camp with a laboratory will be built next to this site.
'Work will begin to dispose of dead reindeers and vaccinating people that were left in the area. We should be done with animals' vaccination in about two weeks,' he said. 'We have experimented to find the most effective way.
'Specialists worked in protective costumes, because, you understand, it is a dangerous area.
'A person can work in such a costume for not more than two and a half hours, especially giving the hot weather.
'We have chosen the most effective way of elimination - we will burn the bodies with petroleum products and car tyres.'
Some 15 carcasses have been destroyed in this way today. 'The burning of the dead bodies will be held continually all day.'
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