Smallpox in Hispanola

By: Zach and Lia


Smallpox is a viral disease that is caused by the variola virus. It is extremely contagious but fortunately it has been declared eradicated in 1980. There are two types of this virus variola minor and variola major, variola major is the more deadly type. It has a fairly low mortality rate at 30 percent but is still very deadly. Smallpox symptoms occur seven to seventeen days after exposure and include a high fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches and rashes. These rashes occur all over the body and are filled with pus that is overflowing with the smallpox virus. When they burst and come in contact with humans it causes the disease to spread. The soars then form a crust then begin to scab; this stage lasts about 5 days. Soon after the soars have scabbed over causing them to fall off, smallpox will remain contagious until all the scabs have fallen off.
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Even before the first outbreak of smallpox in Hispaniola, small numbers of African slaves were being exported from Spain to Spanish estates in Santo Domingo starting in 1503. Because smallpox was epidemic in Spain and Portugal the Spanish did not suffer from smallpox being that they were already immune to it.

Smallpox (Variola): Information for adults
Smallpox (Variola): Information for adults
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Although it is eradicated to this day it was practically common in the 15 and 16 centuries. About the same time Columbus was sailing to this “new world” from 1492 and up. When Columbus landed in Hispaniola now the Dominican Republic and Haiti, in 1492 some scholars speculate that there were about 3 to 4 hundred thousand Native Americans living in Hispaniola and mostly consisted of Arawak and Tainos tribes. The first out break happened in 1507 and after the epidemic of smallpox the number of Native Americans living in Hispaniola dropped to only sixty thousand! This massive killing is a result of smallpox on the Native American community.

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Why did smallpox hit the Natives so drastically?
The main reason why this occurred is because they have never seen a disease like this and had little or no immunity to it. It ravished through their tribes killing ninety percent of the Native Americans living in that location. With most of the Native Americans dead or sick, it made it easier to conquer and take over the island for Spanish settlement naming Spainish as an "accidental conquerer".If it wasnt for smallpox, one could argue that the spainsh would have had a much harder time creating shelter and living on Hispanola. It was a battle that was not fought with guns, fists and knives but with disease.


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