Smallpox Plague

What do you think caused the death go millions of Native Americans? The answer is plague. The Smallpox plague was caused by the exploration and encounter of the Europeans in the the Americas.

When said europeans first encountered the native americans they did not worry about the spread of disease and did not try to assist the Native Americans. Once the Native Americans and been infected their treatments and beliefs of the disease led it to be spread or exchanged more quickly. So what exactly caused the major decrease in population, morale, social structure, and so much more? So first off a little history on the smallpox virus itself. it is caused by Variola Major. and is closely related to cowpox, monkeypox, and camel pox.

Its second form, known as Variola minor, causes similar lessons but has a much lower mortality rate. The infection itself either displays itself as hemorrhagic, in which the rash contributes to hemorrhaging of the mucus membranes and skin. or it can be malignant , in which the rash never develops in pustules. Both infections can be and were very fatal. Even today, there are no treatments available for this virus. You can just manage the symptoms. In “Native Americans and Smallpox” to states that The individual then experiences influenza-like symptoms, including fever up to 104°F, back pain, and vomiting.

Approximately three days later, the fever subsides and the characteristic rash develops on the face, forearms, and hands, followed by rash on the trunk. The smallpox pox form in the nose and mouth, releasing more virus down the throat and often suffocating the individual. The pustules form infectious scabs eight to fourteen days after the onset of symptoms. The infection is spread through respiratory contacts until the last scabs fall off, and is promoted by close contact, crowding, salivary contamination, and soiled linens. Infectious dried crusts of the virus have also been isolated from house dust a year after the infection.

The smallpox epidemic was transferred primarily through the European exploration. When european explorers came to the Americas around 1770. they carried with them many things. They brought horses, foods, new ideas, and also many diseases. Some of the major ones being smallpox, measles, and influenza. Small pox was one of the worse with a 100% fatality rate in some tribes. Without the europeans coming over, the Americas would have never been exposed to such diseases. Because of this, Naive Americans had a very low resistance to such diseases, since they had not yet built up immunity.

The Native Americans were not the only ones hurt by this disease. The Europeans explored as far as they could in that time frame. Bring th disease to other parts of the world including the Aztec Empire, the Incas, and most of coastal South America. Some cities had so many die from smallpox that they just disappeared. Also the Native Americans had to explore many new ideas and treatments . They experimented with many different methods including herbal remedies, spiritual healing, etc. But the most common of all was a trip to the sweat lodge.

But unfortunately this would often make the virus even worse and advance the symptoms. But when they finally did figure out effective treatments it was almost to late. Of course the europeans had to contact the native americans to spread the disease. Once the sailors encountered these native americans they would spread the disease accidentally and unknowingly. Smallpox is not transmitted through animals or insects but instead prolonged face to face contact. But since sailors are, by nature, lonely you can guess how they were once they landed on shore. But sailors were not he only ones spreading around the virus.

Once more and more settlers came over there was a lot more people to encounter. During the early contact period (keep in mind “early contact period” represented different years throughout the many different regions of the United States), many Native Americans did not believe that disease was transmitted between individuals. Instead, they ascribed disease to supernatural forces. For example, during the early 1700s, Northern Plains groups considered smallpox to be a personification of the Bad Spirit. Disease was often thought of as punishment by the “Master of Life” for mistreatment of animals or other people.

During the 1730s, the Creeks and Cherokees considered the spread of smallpox to be punishment for violations of tribal laws, such as sexual intercourse in the cornfields and village-wide violations. By 1784, the Cree attributed the epidemics to anger from God. Now the Exchange portion of this should be fairly straightforward. The Europeans infected the native americans with Smallpox through the columbian exchange. They brought it along with many other foods animals and diseases. “Moreover, it is worth considering the psychological implications of a disease that killed only Indians and left Spaniards unharmed.

Such partiality could only be explained supernaturally, and there could be no doubt about which side of the struggle enjoyed divine favor. The religions, priesthoods, and way of life built around the old Indian gods could not survive such a demonstration of the superior power of the God the Spaniards worshiped. Little wonder, then, that the Indians accepted Christianity and submitted to Spanish control so meekly. God had shown Himself on their side, and each new outbreak of infectious disease imported from Europe (and soon from Africa as well) renewed the lesson. “