Specimens like these at Dublin’s Natural History Museum contain valuable information about the evolution of pathogens and host organisms. Photo Credit: Kieran Guckian via Flickr under CC BY 2.0

Health19. July 2020

Animals and Plants Hundreds of Years Old Help Scientists Predict Future Pandemics

A team of international scientists have published a commentary that reveals one unexpected resource scientists can use to predict future pandemics: museums’ natural history collections.

The museums, ranging from the Smithsonian Institution to small colleges, contain collections of preserved animals, plants, and fungi that are centuries old, of which scientists can use to potentially identify the origin and transmission of disease outbreaks.

The world’s natural history collections contain a total of over three billion specimens, including possible hosts of coronaviruses that have led to SARS, MERS and COVID-19. Researchers from anywhere in the world can study and analyze potential pathogen hosts by accessing the large online databases that gather useful information on these natural history collections.


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