Re-emerging infectious diseases from the past: Hysteria or real risk?

Published: 19 June 2017
Author(s): Charlier Philippe, Claverie Jean-Michel, Sansonetti Philippe, Coppens Yves, Augias Anaïs, Jacqueline Sophie, Rengot Fanny, Deo Saudamini
Issue: June 2017
Section: Original Article

Work on human remains and old biological samples is a potential source of contamination by conventional or atypical infectious agents. Similarly, current and future environmental changes are a source of resurgence of ancient epidemic diseases. To what extent are anthropologists sorcerer apprentices (especially those working on ancient samples, i.e. paleo-anthropologists)? Are ancient skeletons, palaeosols and museum objects with a biological component at risk for current populations? Unless there are unfounded fears and undue risk… What can be learned from the recent scientific literature and the common sense of the researchers?