Skip to comments.Oldest Evidence Of Leprosy Found In India
Posted on 06/14/2009 8:35:22 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
A biological anthropologist from Appalachian State University working with an undergraduate student from Appalachian, an evolutionary biologist from UNC Greensboro, and a team of archaeologists from Deccan College (Pune, India) recently reported analysis of a 4000-year-old skeleton from India bearing evidence of leprosy. This skeleton represents both the earliest archaeological evidence for human infection with Mycobacterium leprae in the world and the first evidence for the disease in prehistoric India.
The study, published in the journal PLoS One, demonstrates that leprosy was present in human populations in India by the end of the mature phase of the Indus Civilization (2000 B.C.) and provides support for one hypothesis about prehistoric transmission routes for the disease. This finding also supports the hypothesis that the Sanskrit Atharva Veda, composed before the first millennium B.C., is the earliest written reference to the disease and that burial traditions in the second millennium B.C. in one northwestern Indian village bear some resemblance to practices in Hindu tradition today.
As infectious diseases go, leprosy is still one of the least well-understood, in part because the Mycobacterium is difficult to culture for research and it has only one other animal host, the nine banded armadillo. An Indian or African origin for the disease has often been assumed based on historical sources that support an initial spread of the disease from Asia to Europe with Alexander the Great's army after 400 B.C. Skeletal evidence for the disease was previously limited to 300-400 B.C. in Egypt and Thailand.
(Excerpt) Read more at sciencedaily.com ...
Cranium. A) Anterior view demonstrates bilateral erosive lesions at the supraorbital region and glabella, erosion/remodeling of the margin of the nasal aperture, including the anterior nasal spine, bilateral necrosis of the infraorbital region of the maxilla, and resorption of the alveolar region of the maxilla with associated antemortem tooth loss. B) Inferior view of the maxilla demonstrates pathological changes to the palatine process including pitting near the midline and in the alveolar region. (Credit: Robbins et al., DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005669)
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Maybe not relevant to the story but a little tidbit I ran across awhile back is that despite the historical quarantining of lepers, leprosy is one of the least contagious of the relatively common diseases, while mumps, the common childhood disease is one of the most.
Ah yes, but the disease described in the Bible doesn’t have the same symptoms as the disease we call leprosy today.
Didn’t know that. Interesting factoid.
Even so leprosy tends to attack the colder appendages on humans.
What was the disease mentioned in the Bible as leprosy?
*eerie creepy voice* no one knows...
It seems to be a catch all term for skin diseases and tumors.
You see a lot of leprosy in asian countries, as they are often relegated to begging in the street to survive. There are very characteristic symptoms which include grossly malformed extremities, claw-like hands which are often no more than useless stumps, thick debilitating scar tissue, and open skin lesions. It ain’t psoriasis.
I’ve read about Leprosy a few times.
You seem to know much more about it than me.
Why are there no cases here?
There are. Certain “immigrants” bring a in few cases every year.
I don’t know the answer to your question. It may be a hygiene issue, or perhaps more virulent in certain populations, but I’m just speculating here. Also it may be here as well in which case they would be institutionalized and away from common view.
Anthropological Disease Zing! ;)
It has to be more than basic hygene. There are isolated areas,- think “Deliverance”-where this is true.
Interesting article, but I must confess.
When I read the title, I was wondering what Pelosi was doing in India.
The Exodus description sounds more like a major case of psoriasis. That would be terrifying enough.
;’) Rosie O’Donnell?
Good likeness -huh?
Good question. Dunno. Apparently not, or PETA would be all over this. ;’)