Tuberculosis in ancient egypt
Did Tuberculosis plague Ancient Egypt five millennia ago?
State of the art
Some medical papyri appear to evoke tuberculosis. Egyptian physicians did not individualize it, but they seem to have noticed some of its clinical expressions, such as cough, cervical adenitis, and cold abscesses.
In Egyptian iconography, some cases of hump-backs were pro-bably due to Pott's disease of the spine
Descriptive paleopathology, born with the 20th century, has identified pulmonary and especially spinal lesions compatible with tuberculosis.
Progress of molecular biology has made a decisive contribution with the diagnosis of tuberculosis on ancient samples. Tuberculosis has been identified using PCR in nearly a third of the Egyptian mummies recently examined.
Spoligotyping has made it possible to re-evaluate the phylogenic tree of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex in Ancient Egypt.
Tuberculosis certainly plagued the Nile Valley and appears to have been an important cause of mortality in Ancient Egypt.
History of Medicine
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