(ORDO NEWS) — In the annals of Bolivian history, a mummified woman buried more than a century ago stands as a silent sentinel of a bygone era, offering new insights into a potential disease.
The relic, originating from the arid landscapes of Bolivia, has been scrutinized through the lens of modern science and revealed hints of a fungal invasion similar to coccidioidomycosis.
In most cases, this airborne threat causes non-fatal respiratory illnesses, but in this mysterious historical case, the unusual result was that the buried woman’s bones themselves decayed, potentially hastening her death.
Coccidioidomycosis, caused by the inhalation of tiny spores carried by certain species of fungi of the genus Coccidioides, is a non-infectious disease endemic to certain geographic regions.
This disease, often caused by contact with the ground or solid particles, severely affects those involved in manual labor.
According to the results of a recent scientific study, inhalation of Coccidioides spores causes acute pneumonia as the primary form of the disease. However, within the spectral limits of these historical remnants, a rare variant unfolds — a progression that manifests itself in “1% to 5% of all cases of coccidioidomycosis” to a chronic and often fatal case.
In less common scenarios, the insidious pathogen targets the skeleton, causing severe damage to the skull and spine. Such spots, which can be seen on dried remains, serve as harbingers of a particularly harmful manifestation of this disease.
The mummy, found in western Bolivia in August 1897, is now in the repository of the Museum of Anthropology of the Federico II University of Naples. It dates back to 765 and represents a woman whose age at the time of death was between 25 and 35 years.
Perpetually buried in the fetal position, her limbs embrace her body, an intimate pose that has survived through the centuries.
Like her Andean contemporaries in ancient times, the woman’s remains bear mysterious traces of cultural traditions that symbolize the era. A stash of coca leaves was found in her abdominal cavity. An artificially deformed skull, extracted by careful manipulation, testified to an ancient custom.
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