Skip to comments.Sea Lions And Seals Likely Spread Tuberculosis To Ancient Peruvians
Posted on 08/21/2014 1:43:29 PM PDT by Theoria
When Europeans came to the Americas, they brought some nasty diseases smallpox, cholera and typhus, to name a few.
But one pathogen was already there. And it likely traveled to the shores of South America in a surprising vessel.
By analyzing DNA from 1,000-year-old mummies, scientists have found evidence that sea lions and seals were the first to bring tuberculosis to the New World. The sea animals likely infected people living along the coast of Peru and northern Chile, a team from the University of Tubingen in Germany reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.
"We weren't expecting to find a connection to marine mammals," says archaeologist Kirsten Bos, the lead author on the study. "It surprised us all."
Ancient Peruvians might have caught the TB bacteria while hunting and eating seals, Bos says, or during some type of ceremony.
"These people had a spiritual connection to seals," she says. "Images of seal hunting and seals themselves have been found on ceramics used by Peruvian cultures. One ceramic has a sea lion on the handle. That's pretty neat."
Previous studies have found signs that tuberculosis infected people across North and South Americas. But genetic data suggest that TB originated in Africa.
So how did the bacteria find their way to the New World before Europeans hit the high seas?
To try to figure that out, Bos and her colleagues screened thousands of skeletons for signs of TB infections. TB is known for damaging lungs. But the infection can also scar bones and curve the spine.
Sixty-eight skeletons had traces of TB infections. Bos and her colleagues could extract tuberculosis DNA from three skeletons found in southern Peru and dating back to between the years 700 and 1000.
The team got enough DNA to reconstruct the bacteria's genomes. To their surprise, the genes didn't look like those from TB that infects people today. Instead, the bacteria were most closely related to a type of TB that infects pinnipeds seals, sea lions and walruses.
"Our results suggest that TB emerged in Africa about 6,000 years ago," Bos says. "Then at some point, the bacteria made a jump from land animals to a sea lion or seals."
These animals probably spread the bacteria to Australia and South America, where people were infected, she says.
The team can't rule out the possibility that the Peruvians transmitted TB to seals or sea lions. But Kos believes that's an unlikely scenario: "It would require humans having regular interactions with [live] seals, like rangers have with cattle today. Humans weren't farming or herding seals then."
The study couldn't determine how common the ancient TB strain was in humans or even if the bacteria could spread from person to person.
But one thing is certain: The strain of TB found in the mummies isn't the one circulating in North and South Americans today. "It seems the ancient strain of TB was actually replaced by European lineages," Bos says.
Pre-Columbian mycobacterial genomes reveal seals as a source of New World human tuberculosis
'Our results suggest that TB emerged in Africa about 6,000 years ago'
---- 'Bos and her colleagues could extract tuberculosis DNA from three skeletons found in southern Peru and dating back to between the years 700 and 1000.'
tb, nasty critters, disease, travel, OOA, not ebola, ping
Seal flipper Pie ?
Better warn all the ancient Peruvians out there!
So TB didn’t exist when people migrated to the Americas?
Is there any crappy disease that didn’t originate in Africa?
Africa does spawn off some doozys. Asia spins off a plague every few years back in the ancient days. China was/is famous for it.
“Ancient Peruvians may have caught the TB bacteria.....during some ceremony.”
“You may now kiss the bride.”
It was lonely there in Ancient Peru.
Syphilis. It's thought that syphilis came from South American "yaws" (actually it's found tropically, including Africa) that when transmitted to Columbus et al, the European dress styles and bathing habits, that is, lack of sunlight on the infected lesions, and minimal washing of both clothes and body, prompting the bacteria to mutate to what is now called syphilis.
Yaws can be transmitted through casual contact as well.
1. Black plague - The bubonic plague first emerged in China more than 2,600 years ago. - The disease spread towards Western Europe along the Silk Road, starting more than 600 years ago, and then to Africa. - Plague even came to the United States from China via Hawaii in the late 19th century.
2. New infectious diseases appeared such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, human avian flu at al. SARS originated in November 2002 in China and subsequently spread to more than 30 countries, infected 8000 individuals with a fatality rate about 10 percent. SARS severely influenced economic development.
3. China: a new strain of Bird Flu that researchers have just discovered. They say it originated in China.
The original strain of Bird flu originated in Vietnam. I've also heard that other strains of influenza originated in SE Asia/China.
4. 1918 Flu Pandemic That Killed 50 Million Originated in China, Historians Say.
5. Kiwifruit disease originated in China
Thursday, 28 Feb 2013
University of Otago | News: National
The bacterial disease that has blighted New Zealand kiwifruit orchards originated in China and was also responsible for an outbreak in Italy and Chile, new research has shown.
Scientists from the University of Otago's department of biochemistry today published evidence that the virus began its journey in China, before travelling to Italy in 2008 and Chile and here in 2010.
6. Highly Contagious AIDS-Like Disease Spreading in China By Chen Yilian, March 30, 2011 Last Updated: August 23, 2012
A poster to promote AIDS awareness ahead of World AIDS Day in Beijing. A highly contagious AIDS-like disease is spreading in China, However, HIV tests come up negative.
In a small hotel across from the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a reporter from New Express Daily, dressed in an isolation suit, interviewed a dozen unusual patients from different areas of China. Their symptoms are painful and debilitating, and AIDS-like, but repeated tests for HIV have come up negative.
It came from, er, intimate contact with animals, though debate goes on. It's an old, old disease that probably was in existence in humans for time immemorial.
Docs locked me in a TB ward for 6 months before they figured out I had atypical TB that I probably caught gardening. Lots of different strains.
The disease mentioned was from filth: bubonic plague, from the infected fleas on the infected rats, from lack of cleanliness.
Rats don't HAVE to be dirty or infected but they were in China. Cleanliness costs and such...
A few years ago I chanced upon a magazine article (can’t remember the publication - sorry) reporting that some university in the upper mid-west had discovered syphilis in the fossilized remains of a bear that died 7000 years ago.
Syphilis can be spread by blood transfusions, so I presume eating raw bear meat can infect a human.
Bear meat can also carry trichinosis.
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