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Saavedra1

KarinaSaavedra
Boloyan&Thorne
Humanities9
12May2016

Influenza:TheCatastrophicImpactonAmericanCivilization
Influenza
.Anotorious,contagiousviralinfectionoftherespiratorysystemthatis
unseentothehumaneyes.Therecanbemanyreasonsastowhythediseasecontinuallyspreads,
suchasfecaloraltransmission,sickanimalsalongthevoyage,andphysicalcontactswithpeople
havingthedisease.Effectsfromthediseasemaydifferformanypeople,butthemainsideeffects
seemedtobesoreness,headache,fever,nausea,andseveremusclepain.However,thecurefor
InfluenzawaslaterdiscoveredduringtheGreatPandemic,resultinginnosimplecureduringthe
late14thcentury.Havingnocureforthediseaseresultedincatchingthevirusandlaterdying,
becausethelackofmedication.Justasinglesneeze,cough,ormealimpactedawholevoyage
andtraderouteoftheColumbianExchange.BecauseoftheInfluenzadisease,theAmerican
populationexperienceddemographic,cultural,andenvironmentaldeclinesalongtheyearsofthe
ColumbianExchange.
Moreover,theoriginofInfluenzawasinEurope,butastraderoutesgrewlarger,this
allowedEuropetogainaccesstotradewiththeAmericas,spreadingthediseasearoundtheyears
ofthe1400stothe1700s.Unsanitaryconditionsalsoaddedontothespreadofthedisease,
creatinganenvironmentaldisaster.Urbanovercrowding,inadequatenutritionandhygiene,and
agenerallackofcommunitypreventivecareallmeantthatInfluenzaandavarietyoffevers

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stillranrampant.(Hays).Crowdedurbancommunitiespavedwayfortheresultoffecaloral
transmission,causingthediseasetospreadevenfurther.
Addingon,theInfluenzadiseasesignificantlyimpactedpeopleonthevoyagefromthe
OldWorld.TheInfluenzadiseasedimpactedSlavesduringtheAfricanSlaveTrade,dueto
unluckilybeingonthesamevoyageastheviruswasbeginningtosprout.Influenzalaterledto
negativelypostponingeventualAmericantradevoyages.ThespreadofInfluenzagreatly
impactedtheColumbianExchange,affectingalltradevoyagestoandfromtheNewWorld.
SomehistoriansestimatethatinthecenturiesfollowingColumbusasmanyasnineoutoftenof
thenativepeoplethroughouttheNewWorldmayhavelosttheirlivestoillnessandother
causes
.
(Aronson&Glenn).Thisquoteisevidentthatdiseases,onebeingInfluenza,createda
dramaticallynegativeeffectonthenativepeopleineverypartoftheNewWorld.
Historian,RobertMcCaa,statesAdemographicdisasteroccurredandthatepidemic
diseasewasadominantfactor
.
(Ravi).Influenza,withthehelpofotherdiseases,
catastrophicallydecreasesAmericanpopulation.Duringthelate1400s,America'spopulation
stronglybeganatthirtymillion,butaspeoplebegantodiefromthedisease,Americas
populationlaterdroppedtotenmillionduringthe1700s.
First,thelossofhumanlifewas
devastatingandmusthavedestabilizedtheagrariancivilizationsthathadbeenthrivinginthe
Americas.(Ravi),thisquoteprovesthatInfluenzagreatlydisintegratedsuccessfulAmerican
economyaswellastheAmericanculture.
AsthediseasewasfairlynewtoAmericannatives,thislackedimmuneresistance,
creatingaweakcivilization.Journalist,AnitaRavistates...before1492,thecivilizationsof
theAmericaswerehighlysuccessful.Likemostagrariancivilizations,theyhadcities,

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monumentalarchitecture,laborspecialization,andvastpopulations
.
Europeanstookthedisease
asanadvantagetotakecompletesupremacyovertheAmericanculture.Europeansdiscovered
moreeconomicaladvantagesasthenativeAmericanscontinuallywereindefeatfromthe
disease.ThisallowedEuropetograbmoretradeconnections,openingtheEuropeanstonew
resourcesItmadetheworldmoreunequalbecausesomepopulationswerebetterabletotake
advantageofthenewconnectionsthanothers
.
(Ravi).Thisquotegreatlysignifiesthefactthat
Influenzaledtoaculturaldisasterduetoanunbalanceofadvantages.
Toconcludemywords,
becauseoftheInfluenzadisease,theAmericanpopulation
experienceddemographic,cultural,andenvironmentaldeclinesalongtheyearsoftheColumbian
Exchange.Unsanitaryconditions,sickseamenalongthevoyage,andphysicalcontactsresulted
ontothefurtherspreadofthedisease.NotonlydidInfluenzaaffecttheAmericanpopulation,but
affectedtheAfricanslavetrade,Americaneconomy,andeventualNewWorldtradevoyages.
Influenzaimmenselyresultedintoademographiccatastrophe,aswellasaculturaldisintegration.
EuropeanstakingcompletesuperioritydefeatedtheAmericaschancesofhavingstrongertrade
connectionswithothercountries.Adiseaseassmallasadroplet,hadthecapabilitytoentirely
changetheNewWorldsagrariancivilization.

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