Ravages of smallpox in Mesoamerica, from the Florentine codex
In the 1500's the Spanish sailed over to the 'new world' with dreams of gold and conquest. They brought with them horses, and strong weapons, and another weapon they did not even think about, viruses. The Spanish already had immunity to the influenza, measles and smallpox. The Mesoamericans, however, did not. It is reported that within a century, about 90% of the indigenous population was wiped out. In some cases the infected died out a few days after contracting the virus, especially smallpox.
Photograph courtesy Institute of Archaeology (NICH) Belize
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