==The Slave Trade and Disease==
European slave ship "cargo" capacity
European slave ship "cargo" capacity
The conditions on slave ships were highly conducive to diseases such as small pox and yellow fever due to tight packing. Dysentery was also common as a result of poor nutrition. Malaria was also brought over to the Americas through African slaves. These diseases contributed to the high mortality rate on slave ships, which was about 20% of all Africans brought over. The loss of slave was so great that ship owners started to use a technique called "tight packing." This meant that slaves were packed like sardines like in the picture, in order to counter the loss they would be taking from disease. The diseases the slaves brought with them would also infect the indigenous populations of the Americas, and in some cases the colonists as well.
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Many problems arose during a slave ship's journey. One major issue was the fact that Dysentery ran rampant throughout the entire ship. Dysentery is a disease where your colon becomes inflamed and it causes one to have bloody diarrhea. This as you can imagine, is one disgusting and even worse, it can be fatal. Being packed into a slave ship there are obviously no bathrooms, so the slaves had to just use the bathroom where they were, and then they would be lying down in it for the rest of the trip. This also goes for others, not only would you be lying in your on feces, but also eveyone's around you. This allowed the disease to thrive in slave ships, and cause death. This was the part the ship owners did not like, having your cargo die was not good business. Instead of trying to solve the problem by making the ships cleaner, they decided to pack even more slaves onto the ship with the thought of knowing many will die, but since more were packed into the ship it would even itself out.

Another disease that killed many slaves during their voyage from Africa to the new world was the disease known as smallpox. Smallpox is a viral disease; it is extremely contagious disease and is spread by direct contact. The heavily packed lower decks of the slave ships are an example of a location where smallpox could spread easily because everyone was usually in contact with one another. Smallpox was so contagious that once an initial case was found on the ship, within one month the entire ship might be infected. One reason that smallpox is so deadly and rapid in spread is that it could take as long as 7 days for symptoms of smallpox to show. Once a victim has symptoms the disease usually lasts 14-20 days, and the only highlight that the disease does not have any after effects if the victim survives. Smallpox was one of the biggest killers of slaves & indigenous p
A child with Smallpox
A child with Smallpox
eoples in colonial times and was an ever-present threat to society.


Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever was brought over to the Americas by the slave trade. There were several incidents where the disease broke out on the slave ships due to water supplies providing home for infected mosquitos. The crew was not spared in this disease, everyone onboard of an infected boat was at risk of catching Yellow Fever. When the disease was brought over it caused several epidemics in both North and South America as the virus spread. Slaves carrying the disease throughout the trip on the ship would then serve as hosts to vectors (mosquitos) in the Americas. A large portion of the slaves themselves had already been through Yellow Fever and thus were immune to it during the epidemics in the Americas. There were several outbreaks of this disease in the cities of Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. Yellow Fever's symptoms include severe pain, vomiting, jaundice, fever, and delirium. It can be fatal in some cases.

Mosquitos are vectors for both Malaria and Yellow Fever
Mosquitos are vectors for both Malaria and Yellow Fever

Much like Yellow Fever, malaria outbreaks occasionally occurred on ships as a result of the stagnant water supplies becoming breeding grounds for mosquito carriers. The disease was brought over to the Americas with the colonists and slaves, and caused several outbreaks of the disease which lasted up into the 20th century. In America, the African slaves had built up resistance to the disease, especially those carrying the sickle cell trait, and were thus less likely to die during the outbreaks of Malaria. Symptoms of Malaria include nausea, vomiting, joint pains, anemia, and convulsions.

This disease was also prevalent aboard slave ships. It is a disease which is caused by deficiency or lack of vitamin C. It causes spots to form on gums and the rest of your body. It also causes the loss of teeth, and it can be fatal. Many slaves suffered from this disease because food rations were not adequate to the survival of all the slaves. The victim looks pale and depressed, and may have suppurating wounds.