Small Pox

In: Historical Events

Submitted By marz21
Words 586
Pages 3
Small Pox and the Indians Throughout our history books we read time and time again about different groups of people who had to endure death and devastation from different occurrences, such as war, genocide or disease. I would like to talk about one of those occurrences, which is only briefly mentioned to us, which is the effect that smallpox had on the Indian communities that occupied the land that would eventually become the United States. To begin, I will briefly explain smallpox, which is an acute contagious disease caused by the variola virus. Its major symptoms are: fever, vomiting, head and back aches, rash and lesions on the skin (known as pox) and a horrible smell, which could last up to a month. The fatality rate of this disease ranges between thirty and fifty percent, sometimes more among the Indian demographic. The virus is spread through human contact and occasionally through inanimate objects such as cloth. The good thing about smallpox is that once infected its survivors are then immune to the disease for life, so the virus constantly need a new human host to survive. The Indians would not come into contact with the small pox virus until the arrival of the European colonists. Since the Indians had not experienced small pox and had no immunity to the disease, so once exposed to it they were very susceptible to it and it often created an epidemic within their communities, which would nearly wipe out whole tribes at times. At this time, the Indians did not believe in contagious diseases, they often believed it was a punishment from spirits or gods, for something an individual or a whole tribe had done wrong. They did not know how to treat the disease so they often resorted to sweating it out in sweat lodges, which they used for other illnesses, but that only made the symptoms worse and often caused dehydration. In the beginning Indians did not…...

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