Photo: Did Columbus Bring Syphilis to Europe?



Christopher Columbus—depicted here on the shores of San Salvador, Bahamas, on October 12, 1492—may have brought home more than just wild tales of the New World.

A new genetic study of various bacterial strains that cause syphilis suggested that the sexually transmitted disease originated in the New World—and may have been taken to Europe by Columbus and his crew.

But other experts say the data is not conclusive enough to blame the explorer for the disease's spread.

Photograph by Dioscoro Teofilo de la Puebla Tolin/Getty Images


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