New study blames Columbus for syphilis spread

Posted on January 26, 2008 

New study blames Columbus for syphilis spread

New study blames Columbus for syphilis spread

New genetic evidence supports the theory that Christopher Columbus brought syphilis to Europe from the New World, U.S. researchers said on Monday, reviving a centuries-old debate about the origins of the disease.

They said a genetic analysis of the syphilis family tree reveals that its closest relative was a South American cousin that causes yaws, an infection caused by a sub-species of the same bacteria.

“Some people think it is a really ancient disease that our earliest human ancestors would have had. Other people think it came from the New World,” said Kristin Harper, an evolutionary biologist at Emory University in Atlanta.

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