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78

Europeans were introduced to at least one important disease from the Americas (syphilis), but far more Old World pathogens were introduced to the Americas than vice versa. There are several reasons for this imbalance. European agriculturalists lived in closer proximity to disease vectors than did most Native Americans. A number of important diseases ...


68

Poland wasn't actually "spared", it was merely less affected than the rest of Europe. That graphic is incorrect (or rather, incomplete), since a substantial number of both Poland and Milan's population did in fact die of the plague. Their death rates were only "low" in comparison to the rest of Europe - if it happened today, it would be horrifying to us. ...


27

Several good answers have already been suggested, but there are a few very important points that are worth mentioning: Native Americans were badly unprepared for the emergence of epidemic disease among their populations, both genetically and culturally. According to this article from 2002, there was a major genetic component to it: far less immune system ...


16

There are three types of plague, Pneumonic, Bubonic, and Septicemic all of which are caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. People infected by fleas get the bubonic form of the plague. However, if the bacteria reaches the lungs, it becomes pneumonic plague which is more virulent spreading via person to person by coughing then no rats are needed since the ...


14

Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred and ninety two; a full 55 years before Henry died in 1547. Henry was not known for his chaste ways, so it is quite conceivable that he would have been an early contractor of a new venereal disease. The most recent excavations at Pompeii have revealed remains two twin teen-aged sisters, apparently in a ...


13

Famously, the Ancient Egyptians knew a lot about sexuality, gynecology and genitourinary infections. Nevertheless, according to this article, there are no unambiguous description of STD's in the medical papyri of Ancient Egypt (though many reported symptoms suggest gonorrhea and some suggest pelvic infections). The same source notes that the Old Testament ...


9

Certainly some diseases are of New World origin. The Old World had more diseases and more deadly diseases simply because the population was much greater and in certain place more concentrated. It is likely that more New World natives were killed by disease than by violence. However, this is just as true in the Old World: many more have died of disease than ...


8

The currently accepted theory for this is that he didn't. Although there is some debate as to what his exact problem was, it doesn't appear to have been Syphilis. The theory that Henry suffered from syphilis has been dismissed by most historians. A more recent theory suggests that Henry's medical symptoms are characteristic of untreated Type II ...


7

The earliest recorded example of bacteriological warfare seems to be the Hittite plague (1715 BC): A long-lasting epidemic that plagued the Eastern Mediterranean in the 14th century BC was traced back to a focus in Canaan along the Arwad-Euphrates trading route. The symptoms, mode of infection, and geographical area, identified the agent as Francisella ...


6

This happening is known as The Great Hanoi Rat Massacre. It took place in 1902 in Hanoi, which was a French colony at that time. At the beginning action was a success, but as the bounty was granted for every rat's tail, soon the town was occupied by rats with cut out tails, that were left alive for breeding, and there were more and more rat farms in the ...


6

Acne has always been with us. According to "The Historic Panorama of Acne Vulgaris," Pharaohs had acne: Some Egyptian writings have mentioned that Pharaohs suffered from acne and had also made efforts to resolve it. Many stories and superstitious beliefs were related to the cause, clinical presentation and treatment of the acne breakouts. Those ...


5

The CDC first diagnosed the disease among Haitians in the United States in July 1982, about a year after AIDS was recognised. They were recorded as a separate group because the infected Haitians were not thought to have any apparent risk factors (i.e. drug use or homosexuality). However, most of the initial Haitian patients were not actually asked about ...


5

If you get sick and bring your disease to the place you are going (for instance, because you were on a long and exhausting journey), you are going to be ill at your destination. You may have carried the germ for a long time, since you are used to it, and it will only strike if/when you are weakened. If you get sick at your destination, it is not likely that ...


5

The one pandemic disease we know of that has a good chance for having an origin in the Americas is syphilis. When it first hit Europe in 1494 it spread rapidly and the mortality rate was very high (as is typical with new diseases that hit an immunologically naieve population). As Jared Diamond describes it, "[W]hen syphilis was first definitely ...


4

I heard a few interviews with an author of a book that went into this subject on the NPR circuit a few years back. Sadly, I didn't pick it up, and don't remember the book's name now. I do vaguely remember hearing that when it was going around, so many people were sick (not to mention dying), that in a lot of places society hit a kind of tipping point and ...


4

I'd say the syphilis was was quite a deadly illness contacted from the Native Americans. They were immune to it (wonder if they still are…). Although it is not 100 % historically proved that the syphilis originated from the New World, it started spreading like crazy after its discovery.


4

One factor to consider also is that Poland had a much smaller population than western Europe. Around the time of the black death, the polish population was something like 2-3 million, while the French population was about 14 Milton or even higher. It's common sense that disease spreads easier in higher population density areas, especially when hygiene was ...


3

It seems that there is a correlation between exposure to and surviving the plague and a genetic predisposition against infection with HIV that has a prevalence in Northern Europe that is not observed in Southern Europe: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/10/4/l_104_05.html


3

According to wikipedia, the current title for the earliest documented use would be the Hittites with the bacterial disease Tularemia in the mid second millenium BC. According to the texts, infected people were sent into enemy territory to help spread the plague there.


3

You can find the answer to that question in Jared Diamond's book Guns, Germs and Steel. He states that people get infected by their pets and that all great epidemics (variola, tuberculosis, malaria, plague, influenza ...) evolved from animals. Microbes needs a mass of people to spread around so big societies, living in cities and connected with good trading ...


3

It looks like the current champion for first recorded plague or pandemic was an outbreak that hit the Middle East in the time of Pharo Akhenaten (roughly 1600 BCE). There is a lot of argument over what exact disease it was, with bubonic plague, influenza, and polio all being argued for. Ankh Nfr has a long discourse on the evidence for this plague and what ...


3

I don't think there is a separate "historical epidemiology" field. Sources Major epidemics are chronicled just like wars - written record is the main source of information. Death records - both papers (when preserved) and cemetery headstones - may provide additional statistical evidence. For prehistorical deceases, the main sources of information are the ...


3

Yes indeed. As early as 1346, corpses with symptoms of the Black Death seem to have been catapulted by the Mongols into the city of Caffa, Crimea during a siege. Reference: Wheelis M., Biological warfare at the 1346 siege of Caffa. Emerg Infect Dis, Sep 2002. Available here It may be noted that this use was not very effective, since knowledge of the ...


2

This attempt at an explanation completely ignores the very high probability that the 1919 influenza strain was related to the 1889-90 Russian flu, as evidenced by its extremely unusual mortality pattern. Without an explanation of this relatedness (to the earlier pandemic), I find it impossible to take this explanation seriously. Update - correction: The ...


2

The question seems to assume a few things: first, a certain time frame, and second, causation. I don't think these assumptions are quite accurate. First, early Renaissance started before the Black Plague. For example, Dante Alighieri wrote decades before the plague. There were some advances in architecture even before that, circa 12th century. Given that ...


2

When I traveled Krakow last month, the tour guide explained Black Death affected less in Poland because they had life style sanitizing dishes with vodka.


2

There certainly is evidence that ancient Egyptians had acne. There is evidence that they drank dairy. There is evidence that they ate butter. There is a ton of evidence now that dairy can cause acne. Did acne exist before civilizations came about? Maybe we will never know because they weren't modern enough to even document it. Civilizations also create ...


1

One of the biggest considerations, although hypothetical and not talked about, is simply the water. A great number of diseases and plauges during this era were due to waterborne pathogens. Europeans rarely drank plain water during the period, and you were more likely to find them drinking beer, wine, and mead just for this reason. It was commonly diluted ...


1

Acne has aways been around historically. The skin of the face, as opposed to the body, is smoother, softer, more oily and grows faster, hence it is more vulnerable to any kind of imbalance. The reason why certain populations have less or more acne depends on their breeding. Since acne is a strong, negative mating selector, as long as a population breeds ...


1

At least syphilis is thought to not have existed in Europe but having been introduced there by the returning discoverers from the voyages of Columbus. Many other diseases have found their way from one continent to another through similar means, think of the plague and HIV... Of course there are many diseases that can be transmitted through sexual contact, ...



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