Smallpox Virus Found In 17th Century Child Mummy DNA Rewrites History Of Deadly Disease

Posted: Dec 9 2016, 7:11am CST | by , Updated: Dec 9 2016, 7:14am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Smallpox Virus Found in 17th Century Child Mummy DNA Rewrites History of Deadly Disease
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  • Juvenile Mummy Virus is Proof that Small Pox created Devastation even Earlier than 3000 Years Ago
 

A virus found in a juvenile mummy is proof that a deadly version of small pox created devastation even earlier than some 3000 years ago.

Age old rashes that have scarred the faces of Egyptian mummies have been shown to be proof of the fact that small pox killed off a large segment of the population even earlier than 3000 years ago.

An investigation into viral DNA has proven that the epidemic occurred even closer to our modern times than was supposed. A 17th century child mummy has been cited to be proof that this small pox virus traveled with conquistadors to the New World and slashed populations all over the globe. 

Were this proof ratified sufficiently, it would present a bulwark against the current theory regarding small pox. The role this disease has played in history would be turned on its head.

The investigators behind this study found the small pox virus by sheer chance. They sent the child mummy samples to the lab to undergo DNA analysis.

What was found was that although the child had no visible scars of small pox, its body tissues contained vast amounts of variola. This is the virus that is the reason behind small pox. 

The large amounts of the virus in the sample allowed the experts to conceive of a special copy of its genome sequence. This is the first such example of such a disease in such an old sample.

Also the investigators were flabbergasted to find that much of the disease found in the mummy matched strains found in more recent samples. The 49 recent strains were related to this ancient one.

The common ancestor of all the strains of virus became prominent between 1530 and 1654. The question on the scientists’ lips is where did this deadly strain of variola arrive from in the 16th and 17th century. 

The possibilities of it residing inside an animal and than hitchhiking onto a human body is very much the likeliest hypothesis. Also a mutation in the variola may have led to it becoming truly deadly in human beings.

The chances of re-infection in humans was always there. Finally, this study points towards the fact that several strains of a disease are often co-existent and affect each other through time.

Replication of this in the lab will help researchers figure out the conundrum that exists with reference to this ancient mummy disease. 

The findings of this research appeared in the journal Cell Biology.

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