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Education | Health
Columbus and crew accused of spreading syphilis


Christopher Columbus and his crew spread syphilis out of the New World, according to a study published by the Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases journal.

Researchers examined 23 strains of the Treponema pallidum bacterium. They found that the modern version that causes syphilis, which is normally spread by sexual contact, is most closely related to one found among a remote tribe in Guyana..

Since the tribe has had few contacts with the outside world, the researchers theorize that this strain was the one around when Columbus and his crew arrived in the New World in 1492. Three years later, the first syphilis outbreak was reported in Europe.

Get the Story:
Add syphilis to Columbus' discoveries, study says (The Los Angeles Times 1/15)
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Get the Study:
On the Origin of the Treponematoses: A Phylogenetic Approach (January 2008)

Relevant Links:
Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases - http://www.plosntds.org