January 15, 2008

Blame Indians for syphilis?

Add syphilis to Columbus' discoveries, study says

He and his crew likely brought the bacterium out of the New World, leading to its global spread, a genetic analysis finds. That conclusion is hotly debated, however.The spread of syphilis across the globe was probably sparked by Christopher Columbus and his crew, who ferried the bacterium, or a version of it, from the New World to the Old World, according to a new genetic analysis published Monday.

A comparison of 23 strains of Treponema pallidum bacteriumfound that the modern variety that causes the sexually transmitted disease was most closely related to bacteria collected from a remote tribe in Guyana.

Because the tribe has had little contact with the outside world, researchers think the strain is very close to what was circulating in the Americas at the time of Columbus' voyage in 1492.
On the other hand:Simon Mays, a human skeletal biologist at English Heritage, an advisory body to the British government on historical preservation, noted that other evidence argued that syphilis existed in the Old World long before Columbus.

For example, scientists found evidence of venereal syphilis in the teeth of a skeleton from 13th century Turkey.

The new study "dismisses this evidence much too easily," Mays said.

1 comment:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Um, er, uh, there is another glaring scientific error in such a thesis, and it is that Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon skeletons long have been recorded as displaying syphilitic lesions on the bones. So, either Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons somehow originated in the New World, or Columbus' men brought syphilis with them as just another part of their biological baggage that also included Smallpox...
All Best
Russ Bates