Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .




EPIDEMICS
Unusual discovery leads to fascinating tuberculosis theory
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Aug 25, 2014


The results of the research provide unequivocal evidence that a member of the M. tuberculosis complex caused human disease in the pre-contact New World.

Grade school history lessons often have it that American Indians largely were wiped out by diseases such as whooping cough, chicken pox, influenza and tuberculosis brought to the New World by European explorers.

One report says, while estimates vary, about 20 million people lived in the Americas shortly before Europeans arrived, and roughly 95 percent of them were killed by European diseases.

But new research led by anthropological geneticists Anne Stone of Arizona State University and Johannes Krause of the University of Tubingen in Germany indicates the diagnosis of what devastated American Indian populations is a little more complicated, particularly when it comes to tuberculosis.

Their study of pre-Columbian Mycobacterial tuberculosis genomes published in the journal Nature reveals that tuberculosis may have had a hand in American Indian deaths prior to the influx of European diseases. The research concludes seals and sea lions likely brought the disease to South America and spread it to people there long before Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492.

"What we found was really surprising," said Stone, referring to her team's examination of tuberculosis DNA from roughly 1,000-year-old human skeletons found in Peru that produced the discovery.

The results, the researchers write, provide unequivocal evidence that a member of the M. tuberculosis complex caused human disease in the pre-contact New World.

"Skeletal evidence of tuberculosis is present in the archaeological records in both the Old World and New World," said Elizabeth Tran, Biological Anthropology program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences.

"The source of tuberculosis in the New World long has been a question for researchers. This paper provides strong evidence that marine mammals may have been the likely culprits, bringing tuberculosis to South America long before Europeans arrived there."

The National Science Foundation's Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences partially funded the research as part of an effort to assess tuberculosis' evolutionary history, its effects on human history and to understand recent reemergence of the disease.

Study researchers also hypothesize that once European tuberculosis strains arrived in the Americas, they completely replaced the prior strains brought over by seafaring animals. This event confused diagnosis of the impacts on Indian populations as researchers struggled to identify which tuberculosis strain was involved in American Indian deaths.

"We are not sure what the timeframe was for the replacement of American strains by European strains after contact," said Stone, indicating the role these strains played on Indian populations is still unclear. "This is one question that we hope to address in the future."

However, she said, "It is likely that the new European strain, which is more virulent, was a culprit--particularly since tuberculosis is really good at spreading during times of social crowding and distress."

Africa has the most diversity of tuberculosis strains, suggesting the pathogen likely originated there and spread. These research results give rise to speculation that humans gave tuberculosis to animals and within the last 2,500 years, marine animals carried it from Africa to South America where they gave it back to humans.

Researchers collected genetic samples from throughout the world and tested them for tuberculosis DNA. Of 76 DNA samples determined to be from pre- and post-European contact sites in the New World, three dated to around 750 to 1350 AD from the Osmore valley in Peru--from archaeological sites at El Yaral, El Algodonal and Chiribaya Alta--and had tuberculosis DNA that could be used for further study.

Project scientists compared these to a larger dataset of modern genomes that included animal strains. Research results showed a clear relationship to animal lineages, specifically tuberculosis lineages from seals and sea lions.

"The connection to seals and sea lions is important to explain how a mammalian-adapted pathogen that evolved in Africa around 6,000 years ago could have reached Peru 5,000 years later," Krause said.

"Tuberculosis is a disease that is on the rise again worldwide," said Jane Buikstra, director of ASU's Center for Bioarchaeological Research, who identified tuberculosis from most of the project's research samples. "This study and further research will help us understand how the disease is transmitted and how the disease may evolve."

.


Related Links
National Science Foundation
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EPIDEMICS
UN vows central role in fighting 'exceptional' Ebola epidemic
Monrovia (AFP) Aug 24, 2014
The United Nations vowed Saturday to play a "strong role" in helping Liberia and its neighbours fight a deadly outbreak of Ebola in west Africa, which it said could take months to bring it under control. Liberia has been particularly hard hit by the epidemic that has swept relentlessly across the region since March, accounting for almost half of the 1,427 deaths. In recognition of the d ... read more


EPIDEMICS
UN warns of 'massacre' in besieged Iraq Shiite town

GenDyn building next-gen 911 call service for Massachusetts

Expectant newly-weds among Japan landslide missing

EU urged to act over surge in migrant deaths in Med

EPIDEMICS
Laser makes microscopes way cooler

Paper offers insights into new class of semiconductors

Discovery suggests surprising uses for common bubbles

Researchers prove stability of wonder material silicene

EPIDEMICS
Japan to propose 50% cut in young tuna catch

Cause of global warming hiatus found deep in the Atlantic Ocean

Marine protected areas might not be enough to help overfished reefs recover

Water delivery drivers dice with death in war-torn Gaza

EPIDEMICS
Arctic sea ice influenced force of the Gulf Stream

US expedition yields first breakthrough paper about life under Antarctic ice

Sunlight, not microbes, key to CO2 in Arctic

Waterloo makes public most complete Antarctic map for climate research

EPIDEMICS
Australia's McGuigan seals wine distribution deal in China

Drought, blight threaten to press up olive oil price

Efforts to confront Africa's soil crisis triples farm yields

Nut price surge could leave Nutella-lovers shelling out

EPIDEMICS
Hurricane churns towards Bermuda, to impact US

Strong earthquake shakes simmering Icelandic volcano

Powerful Hurricane Marie sends pounding waves to Mexico

Citizen scientists saving lives around deadly 'Throat of Fire' volcano

EPIDEMICS
Wildlife 'WikiLeaks' targets Africa poaching elite

China's Xi hails Mugabe as renowned leader, old friend

'Crucial' to protect victims in mass trial of DRC officer

Pygmies torch DR Congo villages in revenge strike: UN

EPIDEMICS
A long childhood feeds the hungry human brain

Science team criticizes adoption of 'novel ecosystems' by policymakers

Japanese 111-year-old becomes oldest man

Neanderthals and humans interacted for thousands of years




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.