Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mexico: Dirty European germs wiped out Aztecs

Sarah Gibbens (National Geographic); Xochitl, Pfc. Sandoval, S. Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly

Did you wash your hands, Angela? - Yes.
From 1545 to 1550, Aztecs in what is today southern Mexico experienced a deadly outbreak.

Anywhere from five to 15 million people died. Locally, it was known as cocoliztli, but the exact cause or causes has been a mystery for the past 500 years [when the filthy invaders landed].
Now, a new study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, suggests the outbreak could have been caused by a deadly form of salmonella.
Salmonella enterica -- subset Paratyphi C to be exact -- was present in the DNA of ten different individuals buried at the only known burial site, Teposcolula-Yucundaa, associated with cocoliztli
While that specific strain of salmonella is much rarer today, Vågene says it would have spread similarly. Any food or water contaminated with the strain would have turned deadly once ingested.

According to study author Åshild Vågene from the Max Planck Institute, the strain is a bacterial infection that causes a type of enteric fever nearly identical to typhoid.

Extracting ancient DNA 
Historians and archaeologists have long suspected that a blood-borne illness was responsible for cocoliztli. Depictions by both Spanish and indigenous artists show the infected with nose bleeds and coughing up blood. More
  • Gut bacteria linked to cataclysmic epidemic that wiped out 16th... (Ars Technica) Gut bacteria linked to cataclysmic epidemic that wiped out 16th-century Mexico... In the wake of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in 1521, waves of epidemics slammed Mexico.
  • Scientists find possible cause for mystery epidemic that wiped out Aztecs (Washington Post) ...mystery epidemic that wiped out Mexico 500 years ago...The study, published Monday in Nature Ecology and Evolution...led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Harvard University, and the Mexican National Institute of...
  • Possible cause of colonial-era Mexican epidemic identified (Daily Mail) How salmonella destroyed the mighty Aztecs: Ancient teeth reveal how nearly ALL of Mexico was once wiped out by one of the most devastating food... An outbreak of a mystery disease in 1576, and second wave in 1576, killed around 7 million to 17 million people...
  • Megadeath in Mexico (discovermagazine.com) Native populations in the Americas lacked immunities to common European diseases like smallpox, measles, and mumps. Within 20 years of Columbus's...

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