There are approximately 1,400 known human pathogens – viruses, bacteria, helminths, protoza, and fungi that can lead to a human’s injury or death.
However, in a diverse world like the one we live in, where scientists numbered only one one-thousandth of one percent, how can we know that researchers have found and labeled anything that may pose a threat to us?
The answer is simple – We can’t!
There is a lot to learn from analyzing the microscopic enemies better.
We may encounter new pathogens when traveling abroad. In some cases, pathogens adapt to new vectors, meaning that they can be transmitted by other organisms, helping them spread into new areas and infect other populations.
However, can scientists analyze everything in safe conditions?
Each study has to document in advance what must be done, how it will be done, where, and who will do it.
Independent committees analyze the descriptions to ensure the plans are on par with the safest ways to carry out the research.
There is an independent follow-up from specialists within the institution, and, in some instances, by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Agriculture, or even both of them to ensure that the researchers follow the standard, approved procedures.
Scientists who work with pathogens follow two sets of principles. First, there’s biosafety, which translates to containment. It includes engineering controls that help scientists stay safe – enclosed, ventilated workspaces known as biosafety cabinets, anterooms, and directional airflow to manage the air movement inside the lab, Nature reported.
The second principle is biosecurity, which means that there are measures to avoid loss, theft, release or even a harmful misuse of a pathogen.
That includes access controls, inventory controls and other methods for neutralizing and storing the waste products.