Virus epidemics are frequent events in human history

27/04/2020

Epidemics in Mexico: In the year one thousand, an epidemic of unknown nature swept away 90 percent of the population in Tula, Hidalgo. This information was released in a statement by the Scientific and Technological Advisory Forum.

The pestilential catarrh flourished between 1450 and 1456, when three snowfalls were recorded in the Valley of Mexico. Food production decreased and then a form of influenza sickened the inhabitants, which was called: pestilential catarrh.

It was so strong that the three most famous emperors - Moctezuma, Netzahualcóyotl, and Totoquihuatzin - stopped raising taxes for 6 years and started distributing corn, beans, and atole among the poorest people of that kingdom. In spite of this, there were also migrations to other places where this disease was not present.

The epidemics that came after the arrival of the Spaniards were very hard, because the Native Americans had no immunity to smallpox or measles, key diseases for the Mexica empire to fall.

In America, there were not as many domesticated animals as in Europe, so the possibility of transmission of viruses that jumped from animals to humans was lower.

Thus, between 1545-1576, a disease - still a mystery - caused hemorrhagic fever known as "Cocoliztli", causing such large mortality that it wiped out 4/5 of the native population in Mexico.

These diseases spread throughout the rest of the Americas and are presumed to have killed 90 percent of the Native American population.

However, it is reported that in the colonial era 14 epidemics were recorded, with smallpox being a very frequent event. In the 20th century, 28 epidemics were recorded, more than half of them of viral origin.

Smallpox, measles, and influenza were the most common. One would think that with the advance of medical science, epidemics would decrease; however, at the time when the concentration is in cities, diseases are more easily transmitted.

According to the influenza pandemic, called the Spanish flu, in 1918 it caused 50 million deaths worldwide and in Mexico there were half a million deaths: At that time quinine was given to patients, commonly used to fight malaria, to reduce fever. And in the streets, they spread criolina, a mixture of soap and bleach, and just like now, isolation measures were taken.

The key health measure that helped control the onslaught of epidemics was vaccination, which began in 1920. Vaccination, an achievement of science, is and will remain at the heart of human health.

By Mexicanist