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Even Wealthy Americans had Worms in the 1800s

An archaeological study at Dartmouth College had researchers digging up the site of an old outhouse, rehydrating fecal samples, and filtering them to find possible evidence of parasites. This wasn't just any old outhouse, though. It had belonged to the home of a professor and trustee at Dartmouth, and was later sold to a wealthy businessman. In other words, the upper crust.

Despite their wealth and influence, the study reveals some of the same “bathroom drama” researchers would expect to find in urban and lower income areas. Not only did the team unearth bottles containing digestive health elixirs, but fecal fossils still contained eggs of parasitic organisms — like tapeworms.

“Our study is one of the first to demonstrate evidence of parasitic infection in an affluent rural household in the Northeast,” says co-author Theresa Gildner, now an assistant professor of biological anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, in a university release. “Until now, there has not been a lot of evidence that parasitic disease was anywhere else other than urban areas in the early 19th century.”

Not only that, but New England is far from the tropical climates that parasitic worms prefer. The study shows that it would have been a rare person who was able to escape parasite infestation in the 19th century. Read more about the research at Study Finds. -via Strange Company


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