ELi5: Why didn’t europeans die too upon contact with new civilization?


It is widely known that upon contact with new civilization, the indigionous people can be wiped out because they are not immune to our sicknesses; wouldn’t they also have some illness that europeans aren’t immune to?

In: 7


Because Europeans lived in big cities with high populations and contact with other peoples who also lived in cities was common.

Peoples living in small, more isolated communities don’t produce or spread many horrible disieses by comparison.

They definitely did, to some extent. The Haitian wars of independence are full of stories of European armies arriving, many of them immediately getting sick and the survivors getting defeated by Toussaint’s soldiers.

Edit: These were mostly deaths due to tropical diseases like dysentery and yellow fever, and were nowhere near as devastating as the plagues Europeans brought with them.

Just like COVID. It was a virus that the world had not been exposed to. We all got sick and a lot of people died because their immune systems had never before seen this virus.

Think of your immune system as some one’s house. The first time a virus/bacteria enters it gets to hang out and spread itself around as a bad guest until immune sys kicks them out. The next time virus enters immune’s house, immune recognizes virus a a bad guest and kicks them out even faster. This happens each time there is an exposure. This is why vaccines are so useful. The first exposure usually makes people the sickest

There is a video link here, but I will still write it down: Americans had no exposure to domestic animals. Horses, cows, pigs and sheep. And goats.
Because of this, they did not contract and gain immunity to some of the worst diseases like smallpox. Smallpox is also so rough because it has mostly evolved to infect animals first but then jumped to humans, being what is called a zoonotic infection.

As for the other way around, it is speculated that syphilis got transmitted from local American populations and was an epidemic in 16th century Europe.