Tuberculosis is Newer Than Thought, Study Says

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New research indicates that some seal species carried tuberculosis across the Atlantic Ocean. Credit Caroline Seidel/European Pressphoto Agency

 

Summary of Tuberculosis Is Newer Than Thought, Study Says

Researchers now hypothesize that Tuberculosis first came to the New World with Seals. A new study published in Nature on August 20th suggests that the distinct New World strains of the bacteria were introduced by pinniped populations across the ocean.

This new finding seems to solve the geographic mystery of the origin of New World Tuberculosis. The team of geneticists and archaeologists tried to recover tuberculosis DNA from 68 sets of remains starting in 2012. Only three mummies from Peru dating to circa 1000 years ago had recoverable DNA. The genetic clock also suggests a much younger date for the origination of tuberculosis of only 6,000 years ago.

Other scholars suggest that the new genetic dating conflicts with the archaeological record of older individuals with tell tale signs of the pathogen.

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