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Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz
Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Fiocruz
ISSN: 1678-8060
EISSN: 1678-8060
Vol. 109, No. 2, 2014, pp. 131-139
Bioline Code: oc14018
Full paper language: English
Document type: Review Article
Document available free of charge

Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Vol. 109, No. 2, 2014, pp. 131-139

 en Insights from paleomicrobiology into the indigenous peoples of pre-colonial America - A Review
Darling, Millie I & Donoghue, Helen D


This review investigates ancient infectious diseases in the Americas dated to the pre-colonial period and considers what these findings can tell us about the history of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. It gives an overview, but focuses on four microbial pathogens from this period: Helicobacter pylori check for this species in other resources , Mycobacterium tuberculosis check for this species in other resources , Trypanosoma cruzi check for this species in other resources and Coccidioides immitis check for this species in other resources , which cause stomach ulceration and gastric cancer, tuberculosis, Chagas disease and valley fever, respectively. These pathogens were selected as H. pylori can give insight into ancient human migrations into the Americas, M. tuberculosis is associated with population density and urban development, T. cruzi can elucidate human living conditions and C. immitis can indicate agricultural development. A range of methods are used to diagnose infectious disease in ancient human remains, with DNA analysis by polymerase chain reaction one of the most reliable, provided strict precautions are taken against cross contamination. The review concludes with a brief summary of the changes that took place after European exploration and colonisation.

ancient DNA; Helicobacter pylori; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Trypanosoma cruzi; Coccidioides immitis

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