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Did Christopher Columbus bring syphilis to Europe?

Dec 10, 2014 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
That has been the prevailing theory for centuries. The disease was unknown in Europe, his critics asserted, until the return of Columbus and his crew from the New World. But, according to a study just published online by the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the famed and often defamed Italian explorer and his crew may not be responsible for bringing the “French disease” (as syphilis was once known) to the continent.

In this new study, researchers from the University of Split, Croatia, examined 403 skeletons and identified one male skeleton that had signs syphilis. The grave and its inhabitant dated back to between the second and sixth centuries—well before 1492 when Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue.

--Sarah Hagerty
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