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

A new data-driven innovation in caring for patients with Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) will provide real-time preventive…

One focus of the ongoing UK health reforms is improving access to the best healthcare for more people.

Nationally, the NHS must embrace more technology, specifically; self-service technology, and do as much as it…

Over the next 12 months, the new Conservative government will need to make two major decisions which will play…

The Citizens Advice Bureau recently published a report entitled 'Personal data empowerment: time for a fairer…

Tapping into the potential of mobile technology can release healthcare staff from offices and give them the tools…

The whole purpose of clinical trials is to gauge the efficacy and safety of particular treatments. But what about…

We all know how frustrating it is to find that elusive parking space. But it’s not until we quantify our…

Devolution may help rebalance the UK’s growth, but its strategy and execution need to be carefully thought…

In a recent blog post, Dan Slee, director of the communications and PR website Comms2Point0, suggested that open…

Back in 2013, I wrote a piece for The Information Daily about how that year would be the year of digital by default,…

When GP Chair of NHS Cannock Chase CCG, Dr Jonny McMahon, agreed to take part in Reality Bites - The National…