Typhoid Fever Epidemic in Ancient Athens

  • Manolis J. Papagrigorakis
  • Christos Yapijakis
  • Philippos N. Synodinos

Molecular evidence, resulting from investigation and analysis of ancient DNA, has identified the presence of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi in victims of the Plague of Athens, thereby incriminating typhoid fever as a likely cause of the epidemic. Current clinical and epidemiological scientific data, related to modern-day typhoid, correlate well to the signs and symptoms of the disease as Thucydides has described them, whereas their apparent differences may be reasonably explained. The most striking hypothesis is that the ancient S. typhi strain may constitute the ancestral original strain of the pathogen, capable of affecting both human and animal hosts. The genomic evolution of the ancient Salmonella typhi strain over time may provide a satisfactory explanation for the diminished morbidity and the varying clinical symptomatology of modern-day typhoid fever. Further investigations, implementing DNA sequencing techniques of the ancient strain of S. enterica, may elucidate its genetically determined differences from its modern counterpart, thus facilitating new approaches to preventing or treating typhoid fever epidemics.


Typhoid Fever Dental Pulp Mass Grave Yersinia Pestis Lassa Fever 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manolis J. Papagrigorakis
    • 1
  • Christos Yapijakis
    • 2
  • Philippos N. Synodinos
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of OrthodonticsUniversity of AthensGreece
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyEginition HospitalGreece
  3. 3.Department of OrthodonticsUniversity of AthensGreece

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