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L. Feldman's Responses To Contacts

Paul Pettennude wrote:

>I believe that syphillis was a disease which was transmitted >to the old
world from the new.

I would be inclined to agree with this statement but there is some evidence
to suggest otherwise, that syphillis is a mutant variant of a previously
known Old World disease.

>Colds appear to have been distributed, but the data here is >fuzzy because
of the ability of cold viruses to rapidly mutate.

Flu, Measles, etc. are Old World in origin.

gkeyes6988@aol.com wrote in article

> One thing that came out was that the military expeditions -- >De Soto,
Tristan de Luna, Narvaez, etc.  Probably did not >spread the epedimic
diseases like smallpox. 

Actually the Narvaez military expedition, in Mexico, did bring Smallpox to
New Spain.  He had an infected black slave.  It was the origin of the
epidemic that killed the Mexica ruler, devasted highland Guatemala and
into Peru.

>it was the established colonies that did the most damage.

What was significant was not how long established or how large the colony
the degree of contact with the indigenous population.  Newfoundland had a
continuous colony of Iberian (basque mostly, then other nationalities)
whalers throughout the sixteenth century but they lived on the very edge of
the island and apparently had little contact with the natives.  Curiously
Viking settlement in Newfoundland was in the exact same region and again
little contact.  

The very ephemeral contacts between Europeans and Indians in New England,
settlement involved (this was before the Pilgrims) apparently were much
effective in spreading disease.  But they were in contact with the natives.
 It isn't how many nor how long but how effective the contact.
> Another point: you will notice that the Vikings do not seem to have
epidemics: the Polynesians (for instance) would not have either, for  the
same reason.  Diseases like Small Pox have to have a rather large contiguos
population to survive

Yes, and when the Black Plague reached Greenland it wiped out a large part
the Viking descendents.  But it had a high mortality in Europe in regions
that were NOT isolated.  Some parts of Europe did escape.  Again it was a
matter of effective contact.

>You can have a few shipwrecks of pretty much anyone you >want in the New
World, with negligible risk of spreading >epidemics.  Large colonies and
repeated contact increase the >chances.

Yes,  going off the subject, one wonders why if contact was so important
only art styles were transmitted- why not chickens, wheat, iron working,
distillation etc.  The ideas are not that complicated, the plants and
not that difficult to transport.  Please note that the Viking did bring
and ironworking.  What provented the diffusion of their contributions was
 effective isolation from indigenous inhabitants.  The same factor that
them from diffusing disease.

On disease, if anyone is interested, I wrote a monograph on the subject. It

 1992. "Active Measures in the War on Epidemics in Colonial Guatemala,
1519-1821."   Caduceus. Volume 7, No. 3.  The Pearson Museum, Department of
Medical Humanities, 
School of Medicine, Southern Illinois University; Springfield Illinois.

                                   Lawrence H. Feldman
                                   Post Office Box 2493
                            Wheaton Maryland 20915-2493



                            Indexer - Researcher - Writer     

Paul E. Pettennude
"It's better to be remembered for the life you lived rather than the things
you left behind."