Monday, 11 January 2016

Oetzi the Iceman had a stomach bug, researchers say

By Rebecca Morelle
Science Correspondent, BBC News

8 January 2016 

Microbes extracted from the insides of a 5,300-year-old mummy have shown he was suffering from a stomach bug before he died, scientists have discovered.

Oetzi the Iceman, the name given to the frozen body discovered in the Alps in 1991, had a bacterial infection that is common today, researchers said.

He had been killed 5,300 years earlier after being struck by an arrow.

This new study suggests he was suffering from an infection that can cause stomach ulcers and gastritis.

A genetic analysis of the bacteria was carried out, helping to trace the history of the microbe, which is closely linked to the history of human migration.

The frozen corpse of Oetzi has allowed scientists to look back at his life in unprecedented detail.

One of the first challenges was to obtain samples from the stomach without doing any damage to the mummy.

Previous research has revealed that he was between 40 and 50 years old, had brown eyes, was covered in tattoos and had recently eaten ibex.

He was found with an arrow in his left shoulder, and most likely died of blood loss. However he also suffered other medical problems, including heel fractures, arthritis and possibly Lyme disease.

Now, to add to his health woes, scientists have now discovered the Helicobacter pylori bacteria.

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