Centuries before first contact with Europeans, new research suggests that a strain of tuberculosis was already spreading from the coasts of South America into the mountains.
European fatal diseases such as tuberculosis (TB), whooping cough and smallpox were Spread around the world with colonialismBut recent evidence suggests that this is not the first time that tuberculosis has reached South America.
in 2014Researchers find DNA of a bacterium linked to Mycobacterial tuberculosis – the strain that causes tuberculosis in humans – in skeletons in South America about a thousand years ago, before the arrival of Spanish, French and Portuguese settlers.
Scientists have known for some time that tuberculosis can easily be transmitted from one type of mammal to another. It has happened tens of thousands of times around the world. But the discovery of several ancient strains in South America suggests that our history books may be somewhat wrong about the original spread of this bacteria.
Pre-contact bacterial strains found in 2014 were most similar to MA subspecies found in marine mammals with fins (fins) such as seals and sea lions.
Then genetic analysis indicated that the most recent common ancestor of all Mycobacterium strains (known as tuberculosis complex, or MTBC) less than 6000 years ago, pointing the finger at marine mammals as the first potential travelers who carried tuberculosis across the ocean.
A new study has found three more ancient strains of tuberculosis in the skeletons of people who lived in what is now the interior of Peru and Colombia. The skeletons have been discovered far from the coast, and even here, in the wide mountain ranges, tuberculosis appears to have been common, chronic, and possibly endemic in the local population.
“These three new cases of tuberculosis in South America before the era of contact are human remains that come from inland archaeological sites, two of which are located in the highlands of the Colombian Andes.” she says Anthropologist Tanvi Honap at the University of Oklahoma.
All three of these new tuberculosis genomes look like M The same type of tuberculosis found in ancient Peruvian coastal individuals, modern seals and sea lions. “
Archaeological evidence from the interior of Peru and Colombia indicates that the locals did not eat seal meat or the sea lion that traded on the coast. This means that the disease derived from pinniped was likely here via another host.
Rather than jumping directly from theropods to these remote individuals, these bacterial strains likely infiltrated remote areas over time, jumping from human to human or spreading among other wild mammals.
In New Zealand today, for example, there are reports of tuberculosis Jumping from seal to grazing cattleProvide a bridge from marine organisms to land organisms.
“Colombia has a variety of land mammals, so M of animal life. ” explain Hunab.
“Or, in a more likely scenario, it could have been brought inland via human-to-human transmission by trade routes, or a combination of both!”
Eventually, European tuberculosis strains replaced the indigenous South American strains, masking the deeper environment for this bacterial infection.
Researchers are now unraveling the complex history of this disease in pre-colonial times. Using genomic research, they hope to identify new strains of ancient tuberculosis to see how the disease became endemic in different locations at different times.
“[W]And I think one or more separate premises M From shark populations to human and/or terrestrial animal populations is currently the most scarce explanation for its spread to these inland sites,” the authors wrote. deduce.
“Additional genomic data… from the Americas prior to contact will aid in the development of these hypotheses.”
The study was published in Nature Communications.
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