A human skull dating back some 200 years has been found in St Vincent.
The skull was found on Petite Mustique, a small island in the Caribbean nation off St Vincent and the Grenadines, south of the mainland according to the University of Oregon.
Researchers say it shows signs of leprosy and could be the first-ever recorded case of the disease in the Americas. Leprosy is a medical condition that causes dramatic disfigurement of the hands, feet and face. These changes also leave a trace in the bones of the patients.
The skull dates back to the late 18th or early 19th century and was first found in 2003.
The research published in the International Journal of Paleopathology on November 13th, was conducted by three researchers from the University of Oregon: Greg C Nelson, Taylor Nicole Dodrill, and Scott M Fitzpatrick.
According to the statement issued by UO, historical records hinted that the island might have been the site of a leprosarium in the early nineteenth century when people with leprosy could be quarantined to prevent further spread of disease. UO archaeologist Fitzpatrick, who is also the associate director for research at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History said in a statement, “There are a number of pretty well-known cases in the Caribbean and Pacific where smaller islands were used as places to segregate people with leprosy, such as Molokai in Hawaii.”
Although the spread of leprosy has been documented in the Caribbean through written evidence beginning around the mid-17th century, they have remained incomplete. With the recent study, archaeologists have found skeletal evidence of the disease that could help trace its pattern of spread in a more efficient manner.