Mar 4, 2017

New Evidence Links the Collapse of Aztec Society to a Deadly Salmonella Outbreak

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

A new pathogen can have devastating consequences in genetically homogenous populations.

When Spanish forces arrived in Mexico in 1519, the native population was estimated to be around 25 million. A century later, there were only around 1 million left, following several devastating outbreaks of disease brought in from overseas.

Despite plenty of speculation, the diseases that contributed to the collapse of Aztec society remain unconfirmed. But now scientists have presented the first DNA evidence of a bacterial species from one of the worst epidemics — and it suggests that a deadly outbreak of salmonella might have been involved.

The downfall of Aztec society has been the source of plenty of fascination, and it’s generally believed that a variety of factors were involved — mainly the arrival of Spanish forces, followed by several outbreaks of European diseases among the native population.

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