The world’s oldest plague victim has been discovered: a 5,000-year-old skull has been afflicted with the Black Death germs.
SCIENTISTS have discovered the remains of what looks to be the world’s first known plague victim, a 20-year-old man who died 5,000 years ago.
The world’s oldest strain of the Yersinia pestis bacteria was discovered after genetic examination of the man’s bones. The rod-shaped bacteria are to blame for some of the bloodiest plague outbreaks, a horrific disease that comes in three varieties: bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic. The Black Death, which swept through Europe in the 1300s and killed up to half of the continent’s population, was caused by Yersinia pestis.
In the 1800s, archaeologists discovered the man’s remains in the Rinnukalns region of what is now Latvia.
The remains belonged to RV 2039, an ancient hunter-gatherer who died between the ages of 20 and 30.
The bones went missing for a long time after they were discovered, until they reappeared in 2011 in the collection of German anthropologist Rudolph Virchow.
RV 2039 was discovered alongside another person, and two more graves were later uncovered at the location.
Scientists have been able to understand more about RV 2039’s life 200 years after their discovery.
The oldest-known strain of the plague germs has been discovered, according to genetic research published in the journal Cell Reports on January 29.
This strain of Yersinia pestis was likely less lethal and contagious than its medieval predecessor, according to the study’s authors.
RV 2039 also carried the plague bacterium thousands of years before any other documented ancient cases.
“What’s most astonishing is that we can push back the appearance of Y.pestis 2,000 years further than previously published research suggested,” said Ben Krause-Kyora, head of the aDNA Laboratory at the University of Kiel in Germany.
“It appears that we are quite near to the bacteria’s origin.”
Yersinia pestis is introduced to people by fleas carried by small mammals such as rats, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
If left untreated, the plague is highly hazardous, with mortality ranging from 30 to 100 percent.
In the 14th century, the Black Death is thought to have killed more than 50 million people in Europe.
“Plague is present on all continents except Oceania,” according to the WHO, “but the majority of human cases have occurred in Africa since the 1990s.” The three most endemic countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and Peru.”Brinkwire Summary News”.