July 17, 2006

La Leyenda Negra Meets Cocolitzli

In the years following the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the native population dropped precipitously. Historians have assigned the cause to Eurasian diseases, mainly smallpox, combined with Spanish brutality.

Now a Mexican epidemiologist, studying chronicles and tree rings, thinks that the killer was actually a New World hemorrhaghic fever.

Cortés and his soldiers defeated, enslaved, and murdered the Aztecs, but now it seems that cocolitzli, a disease brought about by a native virus, is what really finished them off. Today the Aztec kingdom exists only in museums and ruins, but the virus could still be out there. As Mexico enters into yet another period of severe drought, could the killer reemerge?

Oh boy, a Mesoamerican Ebola virus. And we thought hantavirus was serious.

1 comment:

Genevieve Netz said...

Hmm. I hope those germs don't get stirred up again anytime soon.