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Medieval skeletons shed light on leprosy

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DNA analysis carried out on the remains of five medieval skeletons have revealed that one type of leprosy found in Europe 1,000 years ago exists in the Middle East today.

The DNA comparison showed that one type of leprosy found in Europe 1,000 years ago is the same as one present in the Middle East now.

This strengthened the view that the disease spread during the Crusades, said Johannes Krause, from the University of Tübingen, Germany, one of the authors of the work. This was a period when Christian armies fought for control of what they called the Holy Land.

It remains unclear which direction the disease spread, but “lines of evidence suggest an Asian origin of the disease”, as the earliest evidence of leprosy comes from a 4,000-year old skeleton found in India.

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Story: Melissa Hogenboom, BBC News | Photo: Ben Krause-Kyora

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