Brucellosis found in medieval bones

U.S. scientists on Tuesday said that the study of a set of Albanian medieval bones has uncovered traces of a modern infectious disease that afflicts people who eat unpasteurized dairy products.
The findings suggest that the disease, known as brucellosis, has been in Albania since at least the Middle Ages. Brucellosis is primarily an animal disease and it is common in rural farming parts of the Mediterranean region. It is usually transmitted to humans through the consumption of raw goat and sheep cheeses from infected animals, AFP reports.
According to the World Health Organization, the disease can cause flu-like symptoms such as weight loss, weakness and fever. It can also lead to bone damage that researchers in the study first mistook for tuberculosis. When tests for tuberculosis using forensic DNA methods came back negative, the researchers devised a new brucellosis test based on a theory that both diseases cause similar bone damage. The test came back positive.
"In this case it was a combination of inquisitiveness, persistence and of course collaboration," David Foran, the director of Michigan State University's Forensic Science Program, said, according to AFP. "It is amazing to find something brand new in something that is a thousand years old."
The bones came from the Butrint, an ancient Albanian city that was one a large Roman colony and an outpost in the Byzantine Empire. It was abandoned in the Middle Ages as a result of widespread floods. The skeletons are believed to belong to teenage males from the 10th and 13th centuries and showed significant lesions in the vertebrae.