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New scan confirms scurvy killed colonists

CHICAGO, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A U.S. researcher Monday said a multi-detector computed tomography scan confirms scurvy killed about half of St. Croix Island colonists 400 years ago.

The study was presented during the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America by Dr. John Benson of Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor, Maine.

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He said MDCT imaging obtains bone measurements without destroying the artifact. An examination of skeletons from the site showed skull and leg bones with a thick, hard palate in the mouth and an extra layer of bony tissue on the femur and tibia, leading researchers to conclude internal bleeding associated with scurvy caused the death of many of the inhabitants.

St. Croix Island was settled in 1604 by French colonists seeking to set up an outpost along the North Atlantic coast. It is located in a river that divides the United States and Canada. The site was a poor choice as isolation and harsh winter conditions claimed the lives of nearly half of the 79 colonists.

Benson and colleagues analyzed remains from seven burial sites using MDCT, an advanced form of CT technology that supports faster, higher-quality images.

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