Advertisement

Smallpox and the Native American

  • Kristine B. Patterson
    Correspondence
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Division of Infectious Disease, CB #7030, 547 Burnett-Womack Bldg., Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7030
    Affiliations
    Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    Search for articles by this author
  • Thomas Runge
    Affiliations
    Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    Search for articles by this author

      ABSTRACT

      With the arrival of Europeans in the Western Hemisphere, Native American populations were exposed to new infectious diseases, diseases for which they lacked immunity. These communicable diseases, including smallpox and measles, devastated entire native populations. In this article, we focus on the effect of smallpox on the Native Americans from the 15th through the 19th centuries. Among the “new” infectious diseases brought by the Europeans, smallpox was one of the most feared because of the high mortality rates in infected Native Americans. This fear may have been well-founded, because the Native Americans were victims of what was probably one of the earliest episodes of biological warfare. Fortunately, they were also major beneficiaries of early vaccination programs. Thus, the arrival of smallpox and the decline of the Native American populations are inexorably linked, as the history summarized here illustrates.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to The American Journal of the Medical Sciences
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • Behbehani A.M.
        The smallpox story in words and pictures.
        The University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City1925
        • Stearn E.W.
        • Stearn A.E.
        The effect of smallpox on the destiny of the Amerindian.
        Bruce Humphries, Inc., Boston1945
        • Duffy J.
        Epidemics in colonial America.
        Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge1953
        • Creighton C.
        Jenner and vaccination: a strange chapter in medical history.
        S. Sonnenschein, London1889
        • Parish H.J.
        A history of immunization.
        E & S Livingstone, Ltd., Edinburgh1965
        • Mandell G.L.
        • Bennett J.E.
        • Dolin R.
        Principles and practice of infectious diseases. 5th ed. Vol. 2. Churchill Livingstone, Philadelphia2000
        • Dixon C.W.
        Smallpox.
        J & A Churchill, Ltd., London1962
        • Robbins F.C.
        • Mahmoud A.A.
        • Warren K.S.
        Algorithms in the diagnosis and management of exotic diseases. XIX. Major tropical viral infections: smallpox, yellow fever and Lassa fever.
        J Infect Dis. 1977; 135: 341-346
      1. WHO declaration of global eradication of smallpox.
        Wkly Epidemiol Rec. 1980; 55: 145-152
        • Kiple K.F.
        The Cambridge world history of human disease.
        Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK)1993
        • Wanklyn W.M.
        How to diagnose smallpox.
        Smith, Elder & Co., London1913
        • Fenner F.
        Smallpox, “the most dreadful scourge of the human species”. Its global spread and recent eradication (2).
        Med J Aust. 1984; 141: 728-735
        • Fenner F.
        • Henderson D.A.
        • Arita I.
        • et al.
        Smallpox and its eradication.
        World Health Organization, Geneva1988
        • Heagerty J.J.
        Four centuries of medical history in Canada and a sketch of the medical history of Newfoundland. vol. 1. The MacMillan Company of Canada Limited, Toronto1928
        • Johnston H.H.
        The Negro in the new world.
        The Macmillan Co., New York1910
        • Hopkins D.R.
        Princes and peasants: smallpox in history.
        The University of Chicago Press, Chicago1983
        • Simpson
        N Engl J Med. 1954; 250: 679-687
        • McNeill W.H.
        Plagues and peoples.
        Anchor Press/Doubleday, Garden City (NY)1976
        • Thacher T.
        A brief rule to guide the common-people of New England.
        The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore1937
        • Hale N.C.
        Pontiac’s war: The great Indian uprising against the English in 1763.
        Wynnewood, Hale House1973
        • Parkman F.
        The conspiracy of the Pontiac.
        10th ed. Collier Press, New York1962
        • Sipe C.H.
        The Indian wars of Pennsylvania, including supplement.
        Arno Press and the New York Times, New York1971
        • Fenner F.
        Smallpox, “the most dreadful scourge of the human species”. Its global spread and recent eradication.
        Med J Austral. 1984; 141: 841-846
        • Baxby D.
        Jenner’s smallpox vaccine: the riddle of vaccinia virus and its origin.
        Heinemann Educational Books, London1981
        • Jenner E.
        An inquiry into the causes and effects of the variolae vaccinae, reprinted.
        Dawsons of Pall Mall, London1966
        • Hawes L.E.
        Benjamin Waterhouse, M.D.
        Boston Medical Library, Boston1974
        • Martin H.
        Jefferson as a vaccinator.
        NC Med J. 1881; 7: 1-34
        • Halsey R.
        How the President, Thomas Jefferson, and Doctor Benjamin Waterhouse established vaccination as a public health procedure.
        New York Academy of Medicine, New York1936
        • Frost R.
        The Pueblo Indian smallpox epidemic in New Mexico, 1898–1899.
        Bull Hist Med. 1990; 64: 417-445