Mozart 'killed by superbug like MRSA, not poison'

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London, Aug 18 (ANI): Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was killed by a bacterial infection akin to MRSA, claim Dutch researchers.

Mozart died at age 35 - young by even 18th century standards. His untimely death has remained a mystery ever since he passed away in the early hours of 5 December 1791.

Some claimed he was poisoned, others said he simply wore himself out by composing more than 600 pieces during his short life.

Now, a group of boffins has suggested that he died from a bacterial infection spread by soldiers which was rife in Vienna at the time, reports The Telegraph.

The researchers, who studied the city's death register, found that the three most common causes of death among men of his age were tuberculosis, severe weight loss and a condition called 'oedema' or 'dropsy' - an accumulation of fluids causing the body to swell up.

And, Mozart's symptoms match the last of the three, according to Dr Richard Zeger, from the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, who said it could have been caused by a bacterial infection.

He said: "I think you can compare this to a superbug like MRSA or C.difficile."

Mozart's sister-in-law Sophie Haibel, who saw him days before he died, said he was covered in a rash - consistent with a bacterial infection - and severely swollen - consistent with oedema or dropsy.

At the time Vienna was full of soldiers from the Austro-Turkish war who had been struck down by disease.

Zeger said: "Austria was at war at the time so people were living in a bad condition and most of the deaths were among soldiers. You can see there was clearly an epidemic and we found that it started in a military hospital. There was some kind of inflammatory disease that almost everyone contracted and some people died. It was an epidemic of oedema, which is a collection of fluid.

"When your kidneys fail, they can't secrete body fluids so fluid accumulates in your body, which causes people to swell up and get worse and worse."

This kind of a condition could have been caused by being infected with bacteria from the Staphylococcus aureus (SA) family, or which MRSA is a more recent member.

"Mozart's body had swollen up so badly he was not able to turn around any more in his bed, showing he had post-streptococcal complications," said Zeger.

In those times, antibiotics like penicillin were nowhere present, so strictly speaking the bacteria would not have been a 'super' bug as it could not have developed any resistance in the way that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has done.

Zeger postulated: "We still see the streptococcal infection today in close communities like schools and armies so that would be a good reason behind the epidemic.

"In Mozart's time, several soldiers in the army were also musicians who might have performed in Vienna, where Mozart might have contracted it." (ANI)

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