Pre-Columbian tuberculosis in Northern Chile: Molecular and skeletal evidence

Authors

  • Bernardo T. Arriaza,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-5012
    2. Universidad de Tarapacá, Arica, Chile
    • Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154-5012
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  • Wilmar Salo,

    1. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Minnesota, Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota 55812-2487
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  • Arthur C. Aufderheide,

    1. Paleobiology Laboratory, Department of Pathology, University of Minnesota, Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota 55812-2487
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  • Todd A. Holcomb

    1. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Minnesota, Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota 55812-2487
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Abstract

Analysis of 483 skeletons from Arica (Chile) and review of mummy dissection records demonstrates an overall 1% prevalence rate for tuberculosis between 2000 B.C. and A.D. 1500. Tuberculosis cases cluster in the period A.D. 500–1000 which correlates with fully agropastoral societies. Considering only these agropastoral societies, about 2% of their members show tuberculosis lesions. A segment of DNA unique to Mycobacterium tuberculosis was identified in an extract from the vertebral lesion of a 12-year-old girl with Pott's disease from about A.D. 1000, establishing the pre-Columbian presence of tuberculosis with the most specific evidence currently available. © Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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