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A Multistage Model for Treponemal Disease Susceptibility

Author(s): Sarah Mathena ; Nicholas P. Herrmann ; Molly K. Zuckerman ; Toni J. Copeland

Year: 2015

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Summary

There are numerous historical, bioarchaeological, and paleopathological studies of treponemal disease, but most have focused on the origin and antiquity of syphilis. Therefore, little is known about the evolution and ecology of the other treponematoses, such as yaws. In modern populations, research options are limited by difficulty in culturing the causal bacteria, lack of animal models, and ethical issues with human testing. Treatment with antibiotics has also limited clinical research into treponemal disease morbidity and manifestations, though the treponematoses remain as major sources of morbidity in the developing world. Bioarchaeological materials can address this deficit by enabling assessment of the effects of ecological factors on treponemal disease expression. This study addresses relationships between morbidity and ecology of yaws via a three stage ecological model of ultimate to proximate factors, including climate, subsistence, and overall health, in six southeastern United States skeletal samples. Population frequencies of treponemal lesions are statistically compared to risk factors including; average yearly temperature and rainfall, subsistence strategies, and oral health indicators, a proxy for overall health, from each sample. Results indicate climate and subsistence have little impact on overall yaws morbidity; however, poor early life health experiences contribute to later life disease expressions.

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A Multistage Model for Treponemal Disease Susceptibility. Sarah Mathena, Molly K. Zuckerman, Nicholas P. Herrmann, Toni J. Copeland. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398092)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America