The mystery behind the death of MozartUnfortunately, two centuries later, it still remains a complete mystery as to what could have been the actual cause of the premature death of the Austrian composer, at age 35 in Dec. 1791. Many theories have been presented as people try to put up the pieces of his untimely death. History has it that the composer’s body had become so swollen such that he couldn’t manage to turn over while in bed. Others suggest that he could have died of lethal trichinosis, tuberculosis or scarlet fever that he probably contradicted from eating undercooked pork.

Possible clues on Morzart’s death

Now, there is new evidence that seems to come up with a conclusion that is different altogether. It is highly likely that Mozart died of kidney damaged that was caused by strep infection, which could have possibly been strep throat. While working with his colleagues, Richard H.C Zegers from University of Amsterdam analyzed critically data sourced from death registry in Vienna. Prior to this, researchers hadn’t analyzed this daily death registry that started off in 1607 as a handwritten script and was maintained up until 1920 and provided possible clues on what could have possibly caused Mozart’s death. This would go a long way in eliminating the many speculations and unfounded ideas trying to explain exactly why Mozart died.

Dr. Zegars says that by just looking at death patterns during time of Mozart and then combining them with other symptoms and signs of his disease, the researchers were able to get two pillars that they built their theory on. Even though it isn’t possible for their research to be 100 percent conclusive, Zegars said that they were very close to the specific reason that led to his death. The researchers were able to find over 500 deaths were associated with edema, swelling that results from presence of fluid in body tissues. During his time, edema was one of the most common causes of death together cachexia/ malnutrition and tuberculosis, physical wasting away, which most likely resulted from diabetes or cancer.

The 1791 strep throat epidemic

The winter season of 1791 was characterized by a spike in deaths related to edema that mostly befell on younger men. Dr. Zegars says that this could have possibly been caused by a strep throat epidemic. The researchers suspected that this epidemic most likely originated from a local military hospital as quarters that are crowded provide a good environment for spreading airborne bacterial like group A Streptococcus that can lead to strep throat. Over time, strep throat progresses to rheumatic fever over time that can result in damage of joints and heart valve, scarlet fever that is characterized by presence of skin rashes as well as post streptococcal glomerulonephritis, a typical condition which causes building up of fluid in the body because of kidney damage.