Leeches’ stomachs contain DNA from the blood of animals they have fed on. The information can be used to model the population of these animals, and check for population drops that would indicate hunting was going on to supply wild meat markets where the risk of animal-to-human viral infections is high. Photo: Shutterstock

How leeches could help prevent future coronavirus outbreaks: blood suckers provide evidence of wildlife that carry animal viruses

  • Digested blood from leeches’ stomachs contains the DNA of animals the parasites have fed on, giving an idea of wildlife diversity in an area
  • This could help the fight against illegal hunting, and thus reduce the risk of novel viruses passing from wild animals to humans, as coronavirus may have done
Topic |   Coronavirus outbreak

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Leeches’ stomachs contain DNA from the blood of animals they have fed on. The information can be used to model the population of these animals, and check for population drops that would indicate hunting was going on to supply wild meat markets where the risk of animal-to-human viral infections is high. Photo: Shutterstock
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