Always the bugs: Alexander the Great died from dirty water

Styx was a terrible band that I actually went to see in Toronto in 1979.

South Park has an episode where Cartman has to sing the entire Styx song, Come Sail Away, whenever he starts the song.

Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) was killed by a deadly bacterium found in the River Styx, rather than by a fever brought on by an all-night drinking binge in ancient Babylon, scientists believe.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that researchers in the US.. have found a striking correlation between the symptoms he suffered before his death in 323BC, and the effects of the highly toxic bacterium.

Alexander fell ill during a party at the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II in Babylon, in modern Iraq. He complained of a ”sudden, sword-stabbing agony in the liver” and had to be taken to bed where, over the next 12 days, he developed a high fever and excruciating pains in his joints.

His condition worsened, he fell into a coma, and is believed to have died on June 10 or 11, 323BC – just shy of his 33rd birthday. Historians have speculated that his death was brought about by the heavy drinking, typhoid, malaria, acute pancreatitis, West Nile fever or poisoning.

But experts who have reviewed the circumstances of his death believe instead that he may have been killed by calicheamicin, a dangerous compound produced by bacteria.

Antoinette Hayes, co-author of the Stanford University research paper and a toxicologist at Pfizer Research in the US., said,

”It is extremely toxic. It is a metabolite – one of hundreds produced by soil bacteria. It grows on limestone, and there’s a lot of limestone in Greece.”