He was the first person to be infected with the plague: a hunter who lived in present – day Latvia 5,000 years ago, a carrier of disease – causing bacteria, researchers said Tuesday.
Plague devastated mankind for thousands of years, and in the 14th century, black death may have wiped out half of Europe’s population. But scientists have long been confused about its origin and evolution.
The person in question, called “RV 2039”, was in his twenties. Its skeleton was discovered in the late 19th century, but then disappeared before being rediscovered in 2011. Its remains show the bacterium Yersinia pestis, according to this work, published in the journal Cell Reports.
“Analyzes of the strain we have identified are more y than we thought.
“Really a surprise”
Scientists say the strain is part of a lineage that appeared about 7,000 years ago and is 2,000 years older than it was previously established.
Ben Cross-Giora said the discovery of the bacterium was “really a surprise”. The team of scientists initially tried to establish a family connection between this man and three other people, when they discovered it.
Although researchers believe the disease is slow, the Yersinia insects may have killed the person. When he died, the level of these bacteria in his blood was high, which was associated with less invasive infections in rodents.
A rodent bite
The people around him did not like the disease, which showed that he was not suffering from lung plague, which is a highly contagious plague. Scientists say the RV2039 may have been bitten by a rodent.
The bacteria found did not find the key genes, which allowed the plague to spread. So this old version is less contagious and dangerous than the medieval version.
The most recent plague to spread by the plague was about 3,800 years ago, when cities with a population of more than 10,000 began to form. The increasing population density may have caused the evolution of bacteria.
According to Ben Cross-Giora, discovering the history of the Yersinia pest will help us understand how humans defended themselves: “We are very interested in future studies on how these ancient infectious diseases have affected our current immune system.”
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