ATLANTA, Dec. 20 (UPI) — A study has confirmed syphilis did not exist in Europe before Columbus made his 1492 voyage, and it came back with his crew, researchers say.
Anthropologists at Emory University say they re-analyzed European skeletons that some previous researchers said proved syphilis existed in Europe and other parts of the Old World before Columbus’ voyage.
None of the skeletal evidence put forward in previous published reports holds up when subjected to analyses for both diagnosis and dating, they said.
“This is the first time that all 54 of these cases have been evaluated systematically,” Emory anthropologist George Armelagos said in a university release Tuesday.
“The evidence keeps accumulating that a progenitor of syphilis came from the New World with Columbus’ crew and rapidly evolved into the venereal disease that remains with us today.”
“Syphilis has been around for 500 years,” researcher Molly Zuckerman said. “People started debating where it came from shortly afterwards, and they haven’t stopped since.
“It was one of the first global diseases, and understanding where it came from and how it spread may help us combat diseases today.”