Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version

October 2005


Published in Journal of Parasitology, 91(4), 2005, pp. 972–975. Copyright © 2005 American Society of Parasitologists.


The identification of parasites from ancient cultures expands our list of parasites infective to extant humans. A partially mummified human body from the archeological site of Lapa do Boquete, Minas Gerais State, Brazil, was recently discovered. It was interred between 600 and 1,200 yr ago. Dietary analysis showed that the mummified body was from a society that had a mixed subsistence of agriculture and gathering of wild foods. Coprolites from the body contained numerous helminth eggs. The eggs were identified as those of Echinostoma sp. and hookworm. Hookworm infection in pre-Columbian populations is already established, but this is the first evidence of Echinostoma sp. eggs found in human coprolites. The diagnosis of a true infection, as opposed to false parasitism, is discussed. The possibility of Echinostoma ilocanum infection is discussed, as this is a common species found in humans in the Asiatic region, which could have been introduced in South America in the pre-Columbian period. Alternative possibilities are also considered, including indigenous Brazilian Echinostoma species.