Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Once-dreaded leprosy ‘replaced’ by tuberculosis, say researchers

02.08.2005


What caused leprosy – a widely dreaded disease in medieval Europe – to fade from the scene? By the 16th century, the scourge had practically disappeared there.

The reason seems to be, say researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and in London, that tuberculosis, a far more deadly disease, overtook leprosy, killing millions throughout Europe.

Their conclusion is based upon the examination of DNA from human remains from the ancient and medieval periods in Israel and Europe. In these examinations, the scientists found traces of both leprosy and tuberculosis bacteria in 42 percent of the cases.



The findings on the relationship between leprosy and tuberculosis were reported in a recent edition of the British Royal Society Proceedings B by Dr. Mark Spigelman, a visiting professor at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine and of the University College London; Prof. Charles Greenblatt of the Sanford F. Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine; and Dr. Helen Donoghue of University College London.

The earliest case of co-infection of both leprosy and tuberculosis was found by the researchers in the DNA from a body discovered in a 1st century CE burial cave in Jerusalem. This prompted the investigators to re-examine DNA samples from other ancient sites that they and their colleagues had worked on previously. In doing so, they found leprosy and tuberculosis bacteria in remains from a 4th century CE Egyptian shrine that was known to have been visited by lepers, from a 10th century burial ground in Hungary, and from a Viking-age cemetery in northern Sweden.

The conclusion drawn by the researchers from these multiple signs of co-infection of leprosy and TB bacteria is that those with leprosy, which was seldom fatal, were weakened to the extent that they became highly vulnerable to the “big killer,” tuberculosis. This was exacerbated by the lives of deprivation that the lepers were forced to live as social outcasts.

Ultimately, the scientists theorize, so many of the lepers died of tuberculosis until there were too few of them to further spread leprosy. TB, meanwhile, was increasingly on the rise as people in the Middle Ages migrated to urban centers, where crowding and poor sanitary conditions provided a fertile breeding ground for the spread of the killer disease.

Today, tuberculosis, though curable, is still a major, long-term, epidemic disease, with millions of new cases reported around the world each year.

Jerry Barach | alfa
Further information:
http://www.huji.ac.il

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures
17.11.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht High speed video recording precisely measures blood cell velocity
15.11.2017 | ITMO University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>