In the modern world, tuberculosis in North and South America looks pretty much like TB in Europe and so the assumption has been that Europeans brought TB (along with many other diseases) to the New World. Not so fast, say biologists who have been examining skeletons at Peruvian burial sites. In a paper just published in Nature and reported by the Economist as well as by Nature.com, scientists say they have uncovered evidence of a different strain of TB among people that predates European contact. How did this happen? They believe that seals were the carriers of TB. It's not clear how they become TB carriers, but the data suggest that they are, and eating them then infected humans.
This is a reminder, of course, of the many virulent diseases that humans have acquired from eating animals just in past few decades--HIV from chimpanzees, Ebola from bats and monkeys, Avian flu from birds, mad cow disease from you know who. The list is really a pretty long one. And the lesson seems pretty simple: love your animals, don't eat them.
This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.
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