Epidemiological data integrated with climate data taken from tree-ring estimates of soil moisture levels demonstrate that drought contributed to the spread of typhus in Mexico from 1655 to 1918, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Arkansas.

The study has modern-day policy implications because although typhus can be treated with modern antibiotics, it remains a threat in remote, impoverished areas of South America, Asia and Africa and could reemerge as a serious infectious disease, especially where social strife and underdeveloped public health programs persist.

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