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LARGE EPIDEMICS OF HEMORRHAGIC FEVERS IN MEXICO 1545-1815

LARGE EPIDEMICS OF HEMORRHAGIC FEVERS IN MEXICO 1545-1815,RODOLFO ACUNA-SOTO,LETICIA CALDERON ROMERO,JAMES H. MAGUIRE

LARGE EPIDEMICS OF HEMORRHAGIC FEVERS IN MEXICO 1545-1815   (Citations: 7)
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In 1545, twenty-four years after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire, an epidemic of a malignant form of a hemorrhagic fever appeared in the highlands of Mexico. The illness was characterized by high fever, headache, and bleeding from the nose, ears, and mouth, accompanied by jaundice, severe abdominal and thoracic pain as well as acute neurological manifestations. The disease was highly lethal and lasted three to four days. It attacked primarily the native population, leaving the Spaniards almost unaffected. The hemorrhagic fevers remained in the area for three centuries and the etiologic agent is still unknown. In this report we describe, and now that more information is available, analyze four epidemics that occurred in Mexico during the colonial period with a focus on the epidemic of 1576 which killed 45% of the entire population of Mexico. It is important to retrieve such diseases and the epidemics they caused from their purely historical context and consider the reality that if they were to reemerge, they are potentially dangerous. INTRODUCTION In 1545, twenty-four years after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire, a disease that had never before been seen appeared in the highlands of Mexico. The illness was char- acterized by an acute onset of fever, vertigo, and severe headache, followed by bleeding from the nose, ears and mouth; it was accompanied by jaundice and severe abdom- inal and thoracic pain as well as acute neurological mani- festations. The disease lasted three to four days, was highly lethal, and attacked mainly the native population, leaving the Spanish population almost untouched. The epidemic of 1545 covered Mexico, lasted four years, and was responsible of approximately 800,000 deaths in the Valley of Mexico alone. At that time, Mexico had a population of 6.4 million inhab- itants. The impact of this epidemic was immense; approxi- mately 80% of the Indian population died during this epi- demic.
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    • ...Recent epidemiologic research suggests that the events in 1545 and 1576, associated with a high death rate and referred to as cocoliztli (Nahuatl for “pest”), may have been due to indigenous hemorrhagic fevers (4,5)...
    • ...Hernandez described the gruesome cocoliztli symptoms with clinical accuracy (4,5)...
    • ...In 1545 the epidemic affected the northern and central high valleys of Mexico and ended in Chiapas and Guatemala (4)...
    • ...In both the 1545 and 1576 epidemics, the infections were largely absent from the warm, low-lying coastal plains on the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific coasts (4)...

    Rodolfo Acuna-Sotoet al. Megadrought and Megadeath in 16th Century Mexico

    • ...Figure 8. Relationship between drought, disease, and soil erosion in 16th century Mexico (after Acuña-Soto et al., 2000; Luckman et al., 2001, supplemented)...
    • ...The catastrophic cocolitzli epidemics, a malignant form of an indigenous haemorrhagic fever of the Mexican highlands, beginning in AD 1545 and 1576 coincided with one of the worst Mexican droughts in the last 500 years (Acuña-Soto et al., 2000; Luckman and Boninsegna, 2001)...

    Klaus Heine. Paleopedological evidence of human-induced environmental change in the...

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