Sequencing data can often reveal patterns in microevolution, which allows us to make inferences about the spread of diseases. For some diseases, it may be possible to pinpoint the exact time or place where an outbreak began. Considering samples acquired from nonhuman sources may help us to understand and control diseases which exist in animal reservoirs and periodically spill over to infect humans. Reflect on your process of analyzing a virus in today's activity. How might biologists and epidemiologists work together to address a public health crisis? What might we need to know to better address emerging diseases? How can we apply sequencing data and tools to answer these questions?
If you are interested in learning more about epidemiology, or one disease in particular, Cambridge Infectious Diseases is a source of additional learning materials and a starting place to locate current research about many diseases which impact public health worldwide.