Scientists have discovered the oldest traces of an intestinal parasite. The discovery took place in a rectangular lead coffin, created in the period of the 3rd-4th century CE.
The find dates from the Roman period and was discovered in Januay-Clan, France. The sealed coffin contained the body of an elderly man. Surprisingly, a lot of organic material has been preserved, which allowed scientists to better understand the life of a man.
To their surprise, two oval lemon-shaped eggs were discovered that turned out to belong to the human whipworm. According to scientists, it is extremely easy to get infected with this parasite by taking contaminated soil, and food or drinking unboiled water into your mouth. The disease is usually associated with poor hygiene, the use of human manure, or poor waste management.
Often, infection with the whipworm is asymptomatic. However, in the case of a more serious infection, there is diarrhoea, anaemia or even rectal prolapse.
So far, traces of the presence of whipworms on excavation sites from Roman times have been recorded in seven places in Europe. As it turns out, Roman baths did not provide full hygiene.