Clue to TB origins found in Hungarian crypt

Hundreds of mummified bodies, found in a church crypt in Hungary, are helping epidemiologists explain how TB spread in the past.

Samples from the mummies have revealed that multiple tuberculosis strains derived from a single Roman ancestor that circulated in 18th-century Europe.

The individuals, many of them wealthy Catholics, had been placed fully clothed in coffins in the church crypt between 1731 and 1838. A microclimate of exceptionally dry air prevented the bodies and garments from rotting.

In many cases, the individuals’ names and details about their death were available from records – making it a treasure trove for epidemiologists with valuable clues about how diseases spread in earlier times.

The researchers extracted samples from 26 of the Vac bodies with markers for TB infection. Eight yielded a sample good enough to enable genetic sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis germs.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications

See the full article on The Guardian website

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