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“…for each little microbe and bacillus
have a different way to kill us
and, at times, they claim us for their own.”
Phil Harris – from Some Little Bug

These are most of the principal diseases faced by our Western ancestors. Some are bacterial diseases (plants), others viral or animals, some, bodily failures, etc. Medical care was not nearly so advanced as it is today and there were still a few mighty strange ideas out there in medical land. 2000 year old Humorism continued to hold sway in the European descended medical world. Doctors were still trying to balance your “Humors” and still probing wounds with unwashed fingers.*
Native peoples were cared for by shamans/medicine men using traditional ways and medicines. These often proved as effective as Western medicine of the times, which adopted more than just a few of the old ways.
If any care was available. You were often completely on your own…
*bottom of page

These were the “Big Three” everyday killers:
Past a point, they were all untreatable in the times…

Diarrhea – Usually a side effect of various things below, dehydration an immense danger.

Pneumonia – Again, often a companion to several of the maladies below.

Tuberculosis – This one did it’s own work but in the end it was pneumonia.

Just for thought: The Calaveras County (CA) Mortality Schedule for 1850 shows:
Dysentery, Shot and Stabbed as the top three causes of death for the total population.
The two leading occupations noted were: miner and gambler.

see also:
Leading Causes of Death in the U.S. – 1901 – bottom of page

These and more, read on…

Bilious Fever – An archaic medical term for a fever including nausea or vomiting in addition to an increase in internal body temperature and strong diarrhea. Occasionally appears as cause of death on old death certificates. Actually a catch-all, modern diagnosis would likely be far more specific.  {001}

Blood Poisoning – This is the archaic term. It appeared in the newspapers and on death certificates. (see: Sepsis)  {001}

Bright’s Disease – An archaic generic term for kidney disease, which would probably be described today as acute or chronic nephritis. Now, diseases would be described reflecting a more complete understanding of cause.  {001}

Brucella spp - DiseaseBrucellosis – (Brucella species) aka: Bang’s disease, goat fever, milk fever, rock fever, or undulant fever. Like Hauntavirus, this one was only known by it’s symptoms and various archaic names; not identified until 1887 in Europe. Extremely contagious, infecting several kinds of mammals including humans; usually caused by ingestion of unpasteurized milk or undercooked meat from infected animals, close contact with their secretions or aborted fetuses. Symptoms include miscarriage, profuse sweating, joint and muscle pain. Death rates would have been low (probably under 5%) but it could become chronic. The Species B. abortus, causes spontaneous abortions in cows, pigs, goats dogs and humans. Nasty set of diseases, hard to identify, treat or eradicate. Vaccines exist today for domestic animals and it is believed that wild bison and elk in the Greater Yellowstone Area are the last remaining reservoir of B. abortus in the US. However, recent transmission of brucellosis from elk to cattle in Idaho and Wyoming points up the continuing danger the disease reservoir presents to the U.S. livestock industry. Currently no effective plan seems to exist for the elimination of brucellosis from diseased wildlife. Photo: U.S. PD 2002 U.S. CDC/courtesy of Larry Stauffer, Oregon State Public Health Laboratory, rod-shaped (coccobacilli) bacteria.  {001}
see also:
The Originals Index – Cow? What Cow?Buffalo?
The Originals Index – Resources and Hazards – Animals Index Page – MammalsBison & Elk

Yersinia_pestis - DiseaseBubonic plague – bacterial infection (Yersinia pestis). Yes, The Black Death of Europe. It has always been out there with the prairie dog population at some very low level (fleas are the carrier). Untreated, it kills from 66 to 95 percent of victims  in around four days. There are occasional cases today (in the U.S., eleven thru August 2015 w/ three deaths) and, no doubt, a few more, on average in the Old West, simply because of more exposure. This one really needs dense population, rats, and lots of ’em to spread fast; conditions unlikely in the old West. Since the onset of the antibiotic era, the mortality rate has dropped to 16 percent. Photo: U.S. PD 2007, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH – a mass of Yersinia pestis bacteria in the foregut of a flea, SEM.  {001}
The Originals Index – Resources and Hazards -Animals Index Page – Arachnids and Insectsflea
The Originals Index – Resources and Hazards -Animals Index Page
MammalsBlack Rat, Brown Rat, Prairie Dog

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