Russian authorities are evacuating nomadic reindeer herders and quarantining part of a Siberian region after an outbreak of anthrax killed about 1,500 of their animals.
Moscow also sent military planes and biohazard crews to assist local authorities in dealing with the outbreak, according to RT.com.
Anthrax is a potentially deadly disease caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis, the World Health Organization says.
The appearance of anthrax in the Yamalo-Nenets region, around 2,000 miles northeast of Moscow, is the first fatal anthrax outbreak reported in Russia for 75 years, according to RT.com.
The governor’s office for the region said 40 people, including children, have been hospitalized for preventative treatment and 63 people have been potentially affected. The herders are being evacuated to the regional capital of Salekhard.
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Personnel, all-terrain vehicles and supplies have been sent in for the decontamination mission and to dispose of the animal carcasses.
Governor Dmitry Kolybin said on that Tuesday “we have taken all measures to isolate the area. Now the most important thing is the safety and health of our fellow countrymen—the reindeer herders and specialists involved in the quarantine,” The Associated Press reported.
But Dr. Peter Eichacker, a senior investigator at the U.S. National Institutes of Health clinical center, told CNN it’s unclear what type of anthrax infection hit the region.
“But it’s most likely the gastrointestinal tract form,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.