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  • Oldest DNA of Syphilis Ancestor Discovered in Brazil, Dating Back 2,000 Years

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    Oldest DNA of Syphilis Ancestor Discovered in Brazil, in the state of Santa Catarina in one of the sambaquis that exist on the coast.

    Research conducted on a skeleton dating back approximately 2 thousand years revealed the oldest DNA of bacteria responsible for causing syphilis and similar diseases worldwide.

    Datas from WHO

    Annually, approximately 12 million fresh instances of syphilis are reported, constituting about 0.15% of the global population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Despite the availability of a cure today, the scenario during the outbreak of the bacterium Treponema pallidum, which is accountable for causing syphilis, in 16th-century Europe was chaotic. At that time, the disease was completely unfamiliar, and there was a lack of understanding regarding its transmission, causes, and methods for combating it.

    Who’s to blame?

    At the time, the French accused Italy of being the spreader of the disease, while other European countries accused France. Two theories emerged about the origin: some believed that T. pallidum originated in Europe, while others suggested it was brought from America by Christopher Columbus. To this day, there is no definitive answer.

    Syphilis Ancestor Discovered in Brazil

    The genetic data found in a skeleton in Santa Catarina reinforces the idea that these microbes had a long history in the American continent before triggering widespread outbreaks in the Old World towards the close of the 15th century. It appears that they were brought from the Americas to Europe after the pioneering voyages of explorers like Christopher Columbus.

    The researched skeleton belongs to one of the large shell mounds along the shores of Santa Catarina, named Jabuticabeira-II, where numerous burials occurred. Shell mounds were structures resembling artificial hills built with shells and sediments, playing an important role as funerary monuments and territory markers for coastal groups.

    Over a thousand individuals from archaeological sites on the coastal regions of southeastern and southern Brazil were analyzed, revealing suspicions of treponematoses (illnesses brought about by bacteria belonging to the genus Treponema) in only 22 of them.

    Diseases caused by treponema bacteria

    Currently, there are three types of diseases caused by bacteria of the same species, with syphilis being the most well-known. Others include yaws, causing lesions on the skin, bones, and joints, and bejel, which begins with lesions in the mouth and on the skin. Syphilis is mainly transmitted through sexual contact, while bejel is endemic in arid and warm areas, like those in Middle East, and yaws still occurs in Africa and South America.

    The cure

    Bone lesions often indicate the presence of these bacteria in the past. The discovery of the bacterium causing syphilis occurred in 1905, followed by the identification of the first effective treatment five years later. However, the cure was only achieved in 1943 with the discovery of penicillin.

    Syphilis Ancestor Discovered in Brazil

    Read also: Mind-boggling paradoxes: 10 transformative puzzles that will challenge your mind

     

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    Helena Harper

    I'm just a person that love to write and share cool informations, the world is wonderful and I want to share with everyone.

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