Where might you find them?

Most biological agents outside a host organism have brief hazardous time spans often measured in hours or days. Therefore, in objects, a historic pathogen such as plague is unlikely.

Techniques to prevent deterioration, e.g. spirit preservation and processing of animal skins, eliminate biological agents from infected tissues.

However, some objects could be a potential source of surviving biological agents:

  • Archaeology – excavations of burials where soft tissue is well preserved.
  • Contemporary art – recent artworks made with human body fluids.
  • Social history – contaminated food.

Biological agents can contaminate objects in standing water or covered with dirt, bird guano or rodent droppings.

A person with a highly transmissible infection (such as a coronavirus or an influenza virus) who handles an object may cause that object to become a source for the transmission of infection to others who handle it soon afterwards.