News FocusPUBLIC HEALTH

Is Live Smallpox Lurking in the Arctic?

Science  15 Mar 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5562, pp. 2002
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5562.2002

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Summary

KOLTSOVO, RUSSIA-- In July 1991 in the village of Pokhodsk, high above the Arctic Circle, a team of Russian bioweapons experts in blue respiratory suits entered a wooden vault full of 19th century smallpox victims mummified in the permafrost. Worried that spring flooding might wash the corpses into inhabited areas--and possibly resurrect the smallpox virus--authorities in Yakutsk had summoned the team to this nightmarish place near the Kolyma River.