Essay: The Impact of New World Diseases

Sample Essay

Two civilizations that had never known each other before interacted and became what we refer to as the new world. Disease was a silent but significant player in this meeting of civilizations. It is necessary to note that diseases that had previously been unheard of spread like wild fire through this previously untamed region. Where new crops were introduced to both sides of the hemisphere, new diseases also gained ground and led to uncountable deaths. The author notes that these Eurasian diseases and ailments included the likes of syphilis, pox and yellow fever. The influence of the exchanging of diseases upon both societies was not a one way street. European customs, plants and animals were influenced to monumental degrees as well, yet it is believed that the natives were the ones to get the worst part of the bargain.

The impacts of New World diseases upon the Native Americans were disastrous. Diseases such as influenza, typhoid, measles, and small pox resulted in deaths so severe that they cut down Native American populations by almost 80%. The Native Americans lacked the immunity required to fight diseases and ailments that had been born in the streets and sophistication of their visitors.  The European visitors had been experiencing and evolving through complex diseases for centuries and had therefore acquired a stronger degree of immunity as compared to their Native American hosts. Backed up by centuries of evolution from regions of the likes of Africa, the New World was much more evolved and prepared for the confrontation as compared to the Natives. Many historians believe that the natives received the harder end of this deal that is so often referred to as “The Colombian Exchange”.

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