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Arthritic origins in New World?

Arthritic origins in New World?

Scientists have diagnosed the earliest known cases of rheumatoid arthritis from the bones of six people who lived between 3,000 and 5,000 years ago in what is now northwestern Alabama.

The existence of the crippling joint disease before A.D. 1800 had previously not been established anywhere in the world, says anthropologist Kenneth R. Turner of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Rheumatoid arthritis, he adds, may be a transmissible disease that spread from the New World to the Old World in the late 18th century.

The remains of the early arthritis sufferers were identified in a collection of human bones excavated about 50 years ago along the shores of the Tennessee River. At first, Turner and his colleagues noticed bone loss near hand, arm, leg and foot joints typical of rheumatoid arthritis damage. They then took X-rays of the bones and observed that the nature and pattern of the bone damage is nearly identical to what is found in X-rays of modern rheumatoid arthritis patients.
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Title Annotation:rheumatoid arthritis found in fossil bones
Author:Bower, Bruce
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 9, 1988
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