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Mozart's death: strep throat?

August 19, 2009|Associated Press

For more than two centuries, the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has endured -- as has the speculation about what led to his sudden death at age 35 on Dec. 5, 1791.

Was the wunderkind composer poisoned by a jealous rival? Did he have an intestinal parasite from an undercooked pork chop? Could he have accidentally poisoned himself with mercury used to treat a suspected bout of syphilis?

A report in Tuesday's Annals of Internal Medicine suggests the exalted Austrian composer might have succumbed to something far more commonplace: a streptococcal infection -- possibly strep throat -- that led to kidney failure.

The researchers looked at death records in Vienna during the months surrounding Mozart's death and compared causes of death with the previous and following years.

There was a spike in swelling-related deaths among younger men in Vienna at the time of Mozart's death compared with the other years studied, suggesting a minor epidemic of streptococcal disease, they said.

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