A medical history question (1 Viewer)

MayberrySaint

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Watching show about the Pilgrims and I of course have been aware that many native americans died due to European disease as they had no acquired immunity to things like smallpox, cholera, etc.
My question is why did not European settlers become decimated by native american diseases that they had no immunity to? Is it because there was a lack of such diseases since the population density was so different (no cities, etc.) or is there another explanation?
 

RebSaint

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Well, the answer to the question is that European settlers had a natural immunities to measles, mumps, smallpox, the plague, influenza, etc., whereas they came into contact with Indians who had never had these diseases.

Most native American deaths after contact in the 1400s was attributed to diseases.

BTW, it was a two way street. Europeans introduced syphilis, a VD which was evident only in native American societies.

But Indians were clearly the losers here in this exchange.
 
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MayberrySaint

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Well, the answer to the question is that European settlers had a natural immunities to measles, mumps, smallpox, the plague, influenza, etc., whereas they came into contact with Indians who had never had these diseases.

Most native American deaths after contact in the 1400s was attributed to diseases.

BTW, it was a two way street. Europeans introduced syphilis, a VD which was evident only in native American societies.

But Indians were clearly the losers here in this exchange.

Gotcha Reb...but what I was really asking was why were there so many "European" diseases and not so many "native american" diseases? Although I didn't know about syphilis being introduced to european society from America...interesting fact.
 

BullDawg

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The likely explanation as to why Europeans had so many more diseases than Native Americans is two-fold.

1 - Many Europeans lived in very close-quartered cities which enhanced the spread of diseases.

2 - Europeans weren't exactly known for their grooming standards. It can be argued the "savages" were much more civilized when it came to personal hygene.
 

Big_L

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Well, the answer to the question is that European settlers had a natural immunities to measles, mumps, smallpox, the plague, influenza, etc., whereas they came into contact with Indians who had never had these diseases.

Most native American deaths after contact in the 1400s was attributed to diseases.

BTW, it was a two way street. Europeans introduced syphilis, a VD which was evident only in native American societies.

But Indians were clearly the losers here in this exchange.
Are you saying Natives gave Euros syphilis or the other way around? I took a microbiology class years ago and the instructor advised syphilis is present in sheep and does not affect them. Some sheppard in the mid east or Greece or somewhere in that region of the world probably got lonely one nite and shagged a sheep and then went home a shagged a few of the locals, and what do ya know, we have syphilis.
 

BullDawg

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Are you saying Natives gave Euros syphilis or the other way around? I took a microbiology class years ago and the instructor advised syphilis is present in sheep and does not affect them. Some sheppard in the mid east or Greece or somewhere in that region of the world probably got lonely one nite and shagged a sheep and then went home a shagged a few of the locals, and what do ya know, we have syphilis.
Either/or/both.

History

There are two thoughts on the origin of syphilis: the Columbian and pre-Columbian theories. There are ongoing debates in anthropological and historical fields about the validity of either theory.
The pre-Columbian theory holds that syphilis symptoms are described by Hippocrates in Classical Greece in its venereal/tertiary form. Some passages in the Bible could refer to syphilis, especially Exodus 20:5 where the sins of the father are visited unto the third and fourth generation. There are other suspected syphilis findings for pre-contact Europe, including at a 13-14th century Augustinian friary in the northeastern English port of Kingston upon Hull. The anthropological evidence is contested by those who follow the Columbian theory.
The Columbian Exchange theory holds that syphilis was a New World disease brought back by Columbus. The first well-recorded outbreak of what we know as syphilis occurred in Naples in 1494. There is some documentary evidence to link Columbus's crew to the outbreak. Supporters of the Columbian theory find syphilis lesions on pre-contact Native Americans. Again, all the anthropological evidence is heatedly discussed on both sides of the Columbian/pre-Columbian debate. (Baker, et al.)
Alfred Crosby has argued that neither side has the full story. Syphilis is a form of Yaws, which has existed in the Old World since time immemorial. Crosby argues that syphilis is a specific form of Yaws that had evolved in the New World and was brought back to the old, "the differing ecological conditions produced different types of treponematosis and, in time, closely related but different diseases". (ref:225 Crosby)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syphilis
 

Taurus

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The likely explanation as to why Europeans had so many more diseases than Native Americans is two-fold.

1 - Many Europeans lived in very close-quartered cities which enhanced the spread of diseases.

2 - Europeans weren't exactly known for their grooming standards. It can be argued the "savages" were much more civilized when it came to personal hygene.
Also, when a European caught some "jungle fever" he likely died before making the 3-month trip back home. The Indians were already home and thus able to spread new diseases far more easily.
 

johnnyd

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Are you saying Natives gave Euros syphilis or the other way around? I took a microbiology class years ago and the instructor advised syphilis is present in sheep and does not affect them. Some sheppard in the mid east or Greece or somewhere in that region of the world probably got lonely one nite and shagged a sheep and then went home a shagged a few of the locals, and what do ya know, we have syphilis.
The sheep might have gotten it from us...

I saw this Nova a few years ago that explained that the syphillis that the Europeans got from the Indians was a non-sexual variety that you got from skin to skin contact and Europeans quickly got immune to.

The variety of syphillis that the Europeans had had probably been around since (and maybe before) Roman times. It was prevelent in just about every port town. A high concentration of sailors and prositutes made it so. European sailors gave the sexual version to the Indians which was just another nail in their coffin.
 

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