Since the 1960s, “mummies” from Guanajuato have been displayed in museums worldwide. Researchers have found fungi growing on the corpses. Mummies can pose a risk to the health of visitors.
In 1833, during the cholera outbreak near Guanajuato in Mexico, bodies were mummified involuntarily by natural processes. Researchers believe the dry, underground chambers and mineral-rich environments of the 19th and early 20th centuries allowed this mummification. Some mummies may still have hair, skin, or clothing if they show no signs of embalming. Total of 111 mummies, including 63 women, five girls, 30 males and 13 boys.
The mummies in Guanajuato have become one of the most popular tourist attractions of the country. Popular Mechanics explained in an April 4, 2023 article that these mummies would not be free of danger. Researchers from the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico have noted that the mummies, displayed in different museums since 1969 and first discovered in 1969, had fungi growing on their transport chests. This fungus is a problem for the exhibitions and the handling of the bodies. But, most importantly, it’s a problem when presenting the mummies to the public.
Assess possible biological risks
Based on photos from 2021, researchers suspected traces of a fungus colony on cages of glass housing six mummies. It was questioned whether the cages were tightly sealed and whether the public was informed of potential biological dangers. Scientists are primarily concerned about this type of risk. In the first instance, experts will study the mummies to assess the risk for museum visitors and those handling the corpses.
Many criticize how the mummies were displayed, i.e. as nature’s monsters when they used to be normal people. Mexico has set up a program for identification since February 2022 to bring a bit of humanity to these corpses. You should also know that health issues surrounding these mummies are taken very seriously. In Poland in 1970, scientists lost their lives after contracting a fungal disease following the opening of King Casimir’s tomb. Infections caused by fungi have therefore been proven to be dangerous.