Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!

19th-Century Preserved Tissue Yields Cholera Bacterium

Friday, January 10, 2014

(McMaster University)


HAMILTON, ONTARIO—A section of preserved human intestine held at Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum has yielded the complete genome of the bacterium responsible for the 1849 outbreak of cholera along the Eastern coast of the United States. Hendrik Poinor of McMaster University found that this deadly nineteenth-century strain of Vibrio cholera is distinct from most strains of El Tor cholera that cause outbreaks today. “One of the big questions is, ‘where did classical go?’ he said. Further tests of historic cholera strains are in the works.