New skeletal tuberculosis cases in past populations from Western Hungary (Transdanubia)

S Évinger, Z Bernert, E Fóthi, K. Wolff, I Kővári, A Marcsik, HD Donoghue, J O'Grady, KK Kiss, T Hajdu

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18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The distribution, antiquity and epidemiology of tuberculosis (TB) have previously been studied in osteoarchaeological material in the eastern part of Hungary, mainly on the Great Plain. The purpose of this study is to map the occurrence of skeletal TB in different centuries in the western part of Hungary, Transdanubia, and to present new cases we have found. Palaeopathological analysis was carried out using macroscopic observation supported by radiographic and molecular methods. A large human osteoarchaeological sample (n = 5684) from Transdanubian archaeological sites ranging from the 2nd to the 18th centuries served as a source of material. Spinal TB was observed in seven individuals (in three specimens with Pott's disease two of which also had cold abscess) and hip TB was assumed in one case. The results of DNA for Mycobacterium tuberculosis were positive in seven of the eight cases identified by paleopathology, and negative in the assumed case of hip TB. However, the molecular results are consistent with highly fragmented DNA, which limited further analysis. Based on the present study and previously published cases, osteotuberculosis was found in Transdanubia mainly during the 9th–13th centuries. However, there are no signs of TB in many other 9th–13th century sites, even in those that lie geographically close to those where osteotuberculous cases were found. This may be due to a true absence of TB caused by the different living conditions, way of life, or origin of these populations. An alternative explanation is that TB was present in some individuals with no typical paleopathology, but that death occurred before skeletal morphological features could develop.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-183
Number of pages19
JournalHOMO - Journal of Comparative Human Biology
Volume62
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011

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