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Current Opinion in Environmental Science & Health
Volume 17, 2020, 35-40

Soil pathogens that may potentially cause pandemics, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronaviruses

Joshua J.Steffan1,2, Jade A.Derby1, Eric C.Brevik1,2

Department of Natural Sciences, Dickinson State University, Dickinson, ND, USA.


Soil ecosystems contain and support the greatest amount of biodiversity on the planet. A majority of this diversity is made up of microorganisms, most of which are beneficial for humans. However, some of these organisms are considered human pathogens. In light of the current severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak, one may ponder the origin of the next pandemic and if soil may represent a source of pathogens with pandemic potential. This review focuses on several bacterial, fungal, and viral pathogens that can result in human infection due to direct interaction with the soil. Moreover, the current status of knowledge regarding SARS-CoV-2 survival in and transmission from soil is reviewed.

Keywords: Soil and human health, Pandemic, Pathogens, Viruses, SARS coronavirus, Zoonosis.

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