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Controlled fire use in early humans might have triggered the evolutionary emergence of tuberculosis

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  • Controlled fire use in early humans might have triggered the evolutionary emergence of tuberculosis

    http://www.pnas.org/content/113/32/9051.abstract
    Chisholm, Rebecca H., et al. "Controlled fire use in early humans might have triggered the evolutionary emergence of tuberculosis." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2016): 201603224.
    Significance

    Tuberculosis is an ancient human disease that continues to affect millions of people worldwide. A crucial component of the origins of the tuberculosis bacterium remains a mystery: What were the conditions that precipitated its emergence as an obligate transmissible human pathogen? Here, we identify a connection between the emergence of tuberculosis and another major event in human prehistory, namely the discovery of controlled fire use. Our results have serious and cautionary implications for the emergence of new infectious diseases—feedback between cultural innovation and alteration of living conditions can catalyze unexpected changes with potentially devastating consequences lasting thousands of years.

    Abstract

    Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC), a wildly successful group of organisms and the leading cause of death resulting from a single bacterial pathogen worldwide. It is generally accepted that MTBC established itself in human populations in Africa and that animal-infecting strains diverged from human strains. However, the precise causal factors of TB emergence remain unknown. Here, we propose that the advent of controlled fire use in early humans created the ideal conditions for the emergence of TB as a transmissible disease. This hypothesis is supported by mathematical modeling together with a synthesis of evidence from epidemiology, evolutionary genetics, and paleoanthropology.
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  • #2
    The smoke could compromise immunity, the bacteria got a chance to get a foothold. Adapted to humans. Interesting hypothesis.

    Unitill some 100 years ago almost every child in western countries came in contact with the TBC bacteria, some fell ill. Somehow I have TB antibodies myself - always positive mantoux test - but never developed the disease. No, I'm not 100 yo yet... , I lived in Indonesia when I was a child; TBC is killer #1 in Indonesia.
    ?Addressing chronic disease is an issue of human rights ? that must be our call to arms"
    Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief The Lancet

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