Tuberculosis was already present in the Americas before European contact, and new research indicates that some strains may have arrived via an unusual route; seals and sea lions.
Researchers have now sequenced the genomes of three strains of tuberculosis from 1000-year-old mummies from Peru. The strains are genetically very different from the European strains that seem to have replaced them after contact, or any other strains currently circulating in humans. Instead, they are most similar to strains of tuberculosis that today affect seals and sea lions, suggesting that the disease could have crossed the oceans in these animals.
Original research paper published in the journal Nature on August 20, 2014.
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