Ancient typhoid epidemic reveals possible ancestral strain of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi

Infect Genet Evol. 2007 Jan;7(1):126-7. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2006.04.006. Epub 2006 Jun 12.


In contrast to other serotypes of Salmonella enterica, S. Typhi is exclusively adapted to human hosts. Recently, S. Typhi was identified in ancient skeletal material, thereby incriminating typhoid fever for the Plague of Athens. Since, according to Thucydides' report, animals were also affected by the disease, a working hypothesis is constituted that the causative agent of the Plague might be the anticipated original strain of S. Typhi, purportedly capable of infecting animals as well as humans. Possible future sequencing of the discovered ancient strain of S. Typhi may help towards identifying its genomic differences responsible for its modern specification to humans.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics*
  • DNA, Bacterial / history
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Greece, Ancient / epidemiology
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Salmonella typhi / genetics*
  • Typhoid Fever / diagnosis*
  • Typhoid Fever / epidemiology
  • Typhoid Fever / history


  • DNA, Bacterial