Death as a skeleton rides a wraithlike horse and tramples its victims. Even the powerful are not immune. Sicily, 15th century. Photo: © JOSÉ LUIZ BERNARDES RIBEIRO VIA CC VERSION 4.0 It’s strange that we now see America threatened by a plague. Because without plague, America, as we know it, wouldn’t exist. It may have been the most devastating epidemic in the history of humankind — surpassing in its mortality rates any before or since, including the Black Death in the Europe of the mid-14th century. Smallpox arrived in America with the first Europeans and went on, with several other imported diseases, to wipe out up to 90 percent of the Native population in a relatively short amount of time — millions and maybe tens of millions died. They were horrible, harrowing deaths. The virus Variola major incubated for two weeks, followed by an intense few days of fever, before the pustules emerged: first in the mouth, throat, and nasal passages, then all over the body, including around the eyes, where they often caused blindness. A human being would struggle for perhaps ten days, covered in these sores, erupting in bloody and pus-filled bumps — and then, with luck, the… Read full this story
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A Plague Is an Apocalypse. But It Can Bring a New World. have 305 words, post on nymag.com at July 21, 2020. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.