The ancient scourge and one of the oldest diseases, Tuberculosis is not showing any signs of getting eradicated and in recent years has the medical community worried because of MDR cases which are not responding to conventional treatment. Hence it requires new research and completely new approach to contain this ancient scourge.
New research reveals that long ago sea mammals like Seals and Sea Lions could have helped to spread the disease from Africa to the South American population. According to a team of researchers, the disease spread thousands of years ago from Africa to South America through seals and sea lions.
Says study collaborator Jane Buikstra, director of the Center for Bioarchaeological Research at Arizona State University, “Tuberculosis is a disease that is on the rise again worldwide. This study and further research will help us understand how the disease is transmitted and how the disease may evolve.
Tuberculosis has been spreading and its control has acquired new urgency. The findings will help to understand the spread of infectious diseases across the globe like Tuberculosis as well as the spread of diseases like SARS and MERS from animals to humans.
The study team concludes that Tuberculosis was present in the African population and it spread to seals and sea lions 6000 years ago. It spread to South America 5000 years later. However the older strains of the disease were replaced by new strains after Europeans started arriving to South America later. The modern day Tuberculosis strains are more related to the European strain than the older African strains which are still present in the Sea lions and seals.
Anne Stone, a professor in Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change, said in the news release, “We found that the [older] tuberculosis strains were most closely related to strains in pinnipeds, which are seals and sea lions. What we found was really surprising. The ancient strains are distinct from any known human-adapted tuberculosis strain,”
Tuberculosis kills 1 million to 2 million people globally each year. Tuberculosis is spread from one person to another when infected person coughs or sneezes.