Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mummies from Hungary reveal TB's Roman lineage

Bodies found in a 200 year-old Hungarian crypt have revealed the secrets of how tuberculosis (TB) took hold in 18th century Europe, according to a research team led by the University of Warwick. 

One of the 265 mummies resting in cardboard boxes in the Hungarian  Natural History Museum in Budapest, Hungary [Credit: AP/Bela Szandelszky] 

A new study published in Nature Communications details how samples taken from naturally mummified bodies found in an 18th century crypt in the Dominican church of Vác in Hungary have yielded 14 tuberculosis genomes, suggesting that mixed infections were common when TB was at peak prevalence in Europe. 

The research team included collaborators from the Universities of Warwick and Birmingham, University College London, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest. Lead author Professor Mark Pallen, from Warwick Medical School, said the discovery was significant for current and future infection control and diagnosis.

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