Richard III

King of England Richard III suffered from parasitic roundworm

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 03:09 GMT Jump to Comments

New research from the University of Cambridge has uncovered evidence that Richard III suffered from the roundworm parasite (Ascaris lumbricoides).

Richard III, who ruled England between 1483 – 85 and was the last King of the House of York, has dominated the news in the last year, ever since his body was uncovered by archaeologists in a council car park in Leicester.

The team of researchers, led by Dr Piers Mitchell, of the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, have since been undertaking careful analysis of the remains, in an attempt to shed further light on the attributes and history of the controversial king.

Using a powerful microscope, the team examined soil samples taken from the skeleton’s pelvis and skull, in addition to soil surrounding the grave. According to Dr Mitchell, the microscope revealed multiple roundworm eggs in the soil sample taken from the pelvis, where the intestines would have been situated in life.

The lack of eggs in soil samples from the skull, and similar samples surrounding the body confidently suggest that the eggs found in the pelvis area resulted from genuine roundworm during his life, rather than from external contamination by human waste in the area.

In an article for The Lancet, Dr Mitchell revealed that “Richard was infected with roundworms in his intestines, although no other species of intestinal parasite were present in the samples we studied”.

Roundworms are parasitic nematodes, which infect humans when people ingest their eggs via contaminated food, water or soil. After gestation, the parasite then crawls up into the airways to the throat to be swallowed back into the intestines where they grow up to one foot long.

Roundworm infection is thought to be one of the commonest health conditions in the world, affecting up to a quarter of all people globally, although it is rare in the UK today.

Dr Jo Appleby, Lecturer in Human Bioarchaeology at the University of Leicester, UK, shed some light on the situation and explained that: “Despite Richard's noble background, it appears that his lifestyle did not completely protect him from intestinal parasite infection, which would have been very common at the time”.

Comments

Latest

The only way the NHS will be able to find £22 billion of efficiency savings, strengthen out of hours services…

Professor Michael Thick, the transplant surgeon who took on the poisoned chalice of clinical leadership at NHS…

Extremely outdated data is still being used in the fight against dementia, with problematic results.

This July, East Sussex NHS Trust misplaced a memory stick containing the personal details of 3,000 of its patients.

The UK public sector now tops the table as the industry most likely to face malware attacks, so what do organisations…

Britain is taking big strides in digital reforms. Yet, the NHS is falling behind. Why?

Jamie Prangnell shares his story of working with a mental health trust in developing a series of ‘game-style’…

In the UK, and more widely across Europe and the world, the realisation that people are living longer is starting…

The public sector has entered a new phase in its evolution – the digital age. New research by Deloitte LLP…

This week the media headlines focused on the overwhelming news that diabetes cases soared by 60 per cent in the…

Collaboration holds the key to adoption of open source technology in the public sector.

In each of the last three years, BDO’s Local Government Social Media Survey has tested the appetite for…