Virus causing flu can survive for decades and longer, in frozen lakes and are very well capable of infecting humans and animals once again.
Dr Scott Rogers of Bowling Green State University of Ohio and his team have found viral RNA perfectly preserved and still potent in a frozen lake of Siberia. Such frozen viruses can be picked up by migratory birds and are capable of causing outbreaks of viral diseases. Those viruses could even cause new epidemics that could sicken and kill many generations after they were last seen, so report researchers in the Journal of Virology.
Migrating birds are said to be the carriers of avian influenza (bird flu) that has spread into 50 countries and killed around 153 persons.
The virus, which causes avian influenza, H5N1 is a descendant of H1N1 that caused a pandemic in 1918, leaving around 40 to 100 million persons dead. This virus was recovered from the frozen body of a victim in Alaska. Were that strain of H1N1 to circulate today, it could cause another serious pandemic because no one alive now has immunity to it, Rogers said.
Dr. Rogers and his team had also discovered a strain of H1 virus that circulated during the late 1930s and 1960s.
The data taken from the study of Dr. Rogers and his team suggested that influenza A virus deposited as the birds begin their autumn migration could be preserved in lake ice and released as the ice melted. This in turn could be picked up again by migrating birds and spread along their paths of flight.