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After comparing 26 strains of treponemes from Africa, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and the Pacific Islands, the researchers found the strains that caused the sexually transmitted disease originated recently, with their closest relatives being germs collected in South America. In other words, it seems to have come from the New World.
"The movement of diseases between Europeans and Native Americans is often seen as a one-way street, with Europeans bringing germs such as smallpox and measles," Harper said. "But syphilis seems to be an example of a disease that went the other way."
The researchers detail their findings Jan. 15 in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Originally posted by plumranch
But if I had to bet I would lay it on those sailors!