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19th Century Tissue Specimen Enables Study of Cholera Outbreak — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
January 9, 2014

19th Century Tissue Specimen Enables Study of Cholera Outbreak

By Joe Elia

Of historical and possible futuristic interest: the preserved intestine of a victim of an 1849 outbreak of cholera in Philadelphia has enabled researchers to speculate on the genomic origins of the disease.

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers note that the strain causing the Philadelphia outbreak closely resembles "classical" cholera strains more than the "El Tor" strain common in the 20th century and later.

Asked to comment, ID specialist Matt Waldor of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston wrote: "This fascinating paper demonstrates that there is an enormous amount we can now learn from medical museum specimens using new technologies for sequencing ancient DNA."

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