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Roman Public Baths and Toilets Responsible for Spreading Parasites Across Europe

Update Date: Jan 12, 2016 01:40 AM EST

Roman Empire has a history of over 2,000 years and they are known to have brought in some of the first attempts of real sanitation, back in the day. Romanization was all about bathing, using the toilets and their maintenance so that the feces could be kept away from the streets. However, as "sanitary" as it may seem, it may not have been the healthiest option for the public. According to a latest study published in the journal of Parasitology, Roman toilets, and rotting fish sauce, may have led to spread of parasites all across the continent of Europe, says NDTV.

Piers Mitchell, a biological anthropologist at Cambridge University, who studied the evolution of diseases throughout history, was enthused by the idea that human health in the modern third-world countries are dependent a lot on clean water access and toilets. Before Romans began their era of conquests, there were no signs of sewers and baths anywhere else. While analyzing the archaeological evidence, Mitchell was expecting to see a fall in the spread of parasite due to poor sanitation, such as roundworm. "But surprisingly, they didn't drop," Mitchell told The Post. "They stayed roughly the same and then gradually increased."
"It certainly didn't make things any worse," Mitchell said, in case of general public health. However, Mitchell adds that the persistence of Romans on keeping the streets clean of stray feces may have backfired. "The overall sanitation package they brought across Europe also included laws about taking all the waste from the street out of town," Mitchell explained. "This probably made the streets smell better, but it also led to the feces being used for soil." We now know that human feces must be composted for months before being used on food crops, lest the fertilizer spread parasite eggs. "The Romans didn't know anything about that, so they may have been re-infecting their population," he said, reported University of Cambridge News.

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