By Paul Hackett
Read or Download A Very Remarkable Sickness: Epidemics in the Petit Nord, 1670-1846 PDF
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Extra info for A Very Remarkable Sickness: Epidemics in the Petit Nord, 1670-1846
Unlike in Mesoamerica, these afflictions did not become endemic in the northeastern colonies until, at the very least, late in the eighteenth century, perhaps a century and a half after their initial introduction. Rather, each epidemic began with the arrival of a ship carrying disease from an external source, from Europe, Africa, or the West Indies, coming either directly from major disease pools or places in close contact with those pools. Infectious disease was commonplace on these early transatlantic voyages, and while typhus, typhoid, and dysentery were probably the greatest threats, smallpox, measles, and other crowd diseases were also frequently present.
19 For these people, at least, there is no reason to suspect that the afflictions that circulated within the disease pool of Mesoamerica from the early sixteenth century were making their way far north prior to the eighteenth century. OLD WORLD DISEASE TRANSMISSION An Eastern Source: European Settlement on the North Atlantic Coast The situation was far different along the Atlantic coast, in what is now the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, than in Mesoamerica. Here, settlement lagged far behind the rich lands of Spanish America, and the mass migrations that made possible the import of crowd diseases waited until the early seventeenth century.
Gatherings in the Boundary Waters area at Rainy Lake and along the Rainy River were also conspicuous, where the fisheries supported groups of more than 1000. Such large gatherings were ideally suited to the spread of epidemic disease, both because they attracted people from far around, some of whom would be infective, and because they gathered susceptibles in a single location where they interacted socially with those who were infective. In the vast interior of the Petit Nord, however, group sizes were smaller and the people more dispersed than in the south.