According to Guns, Germs, and Steel, why did European diseases wipe out Native Americans and not the other way around?Following the arrival of European explorers in the New World, why did European...

According to Guns, Germs, and Steel, why did European diseases wipe out Native Americans and not the other way around?

Following the arrival of European explorers in the New World, why did European diseases wipe out Native Americans and not the other way around?

Asked on by npatrickb

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is because of the fact that the Europeans had had domesticated animals for a much longer time and had had a broader variety of domesticated animals.

As people lived in close proximity to the animals, infectious diseases developed.  The longer people and animals live together, and the more different kinds of animals there are living with the people, the more chances there are for infectious diseases to develop.

In the New World, there were very few domesticated animals.  In addition, agriculture had not been present for nearly as long as it had been in Eurasia.  For these reasons, the Europeans (by the time of contact) carried many infectious diseases while the Native Americans did not.

uyenpham's profile pic

uyenpham | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

My personal way of stating it is:

Europeans had domesticated animals for a much longer period of time and the lived in very close proximity to the animals. The infectious diseases developed from humans and animals living very closely together.  In the New World, the Native American had very few domesticated animals ergo the Europeans had more of an immunity to the diseases than the Native Americans.

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