March/April 2018

World Roundup EnglandENGLAND: Perhaps medieval Englanders should have shunned fur. Genetic testing on the skull of a woman who died in Suffolk between 885 and 1015 revealed that she suffered from a strain of leprosy carried by red squirrels. Cases of leprosy were particularly prevalent in East Anglia during that period. The region’s close ties with Viking traders and the demand for prized Scandinavian squirrel fur may have been responsible for the disease’s introduction, and the bushy-tailed rodents may inadvertently have passed it on to humans.