Columbus likely the original source of syphilis in Europe

Posted: 12/22/2011 in all marine news

Bryan Nelson –

Treasure, spices… and syphilis ? New evidence confirms that the 1492 Columbus voyage is the likely source of the venereal disease in Europe.

The main purpose of Christopher Columbus’ famed 1492 voyage was to open up trade routes to bring back treasure and spices to Europe.

But now new evidence has emerged suggesting that Columbus may also have brought back some unintended cargo: syphilis.

Since the first recorded epidemic of venereal syphilis occurred in Europe in 1495, just 3 years after Columbus returned from his discovery of the New World, scientists have long suspected that the voyage was the source of the disease.

A few kinks in the evidence kept the theory from becoming mainstream, however. For instance, there existed skeletal remains from both the Old and New World which allegedly showed signs of syphilis infection before Columbus’ voyage.

“This is the first time that all… of these cases have been evaluated systematically,” said George Armelagos, co-author of the study. “The evidence keeps accumulating that a progenitor of syphilis came from the New World with Columbus’ crew and rapidly evolved into the venereal disease that remains with us today.”

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