‘Abundant bleeding’ epidemic in 16th-century Mexico might have been Salmonella
A mysterious epidemic that killed millions of people in 16th century Mexico may be linked to a rare strain of Salmonella, a new DNA analysis reveals. The discovery is the best clue yet to the cause of a devastating infection that killed up to 80 percent of Mexico’s native population between 1545 and 1550 — spreading to Guatemala, and possibly as far south as Peru.
At the time, no one had ever seen anything like this disease: it made its victims bleed from their faces. Medical texts from the period show stacks of corpses and people speckled by rashes, gushing blood from their noses. Indigenous peoples called it “huey cocoliztli,” or great pestilence. Spanish invaders named it “pujamiento de sangre,” which translates to abundant bleeding…
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