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When Europeans invaded the Americas they introduced many Old World diseases that decimated Native Americans. Scientists had thought that anthrax was one of them. New research shows, however, that the deadly bacteria arrived in the Americas thousands of years earlier, when Stone Age humans crossed the Bering land bridge.
The military Ames strain behind the 2001 anthrax attacks, however, is a recent Asian immigrant.
Anthrax bacteria can live in soil for decades as tough spores, until they are inhaled by a grazing animal. Then they multiply explosively, kill the animal, and bleed into the soil to await the next victim.