eli5: Why Weren’t European Colonizers As Impacted By New World Diseases as The Natives were by European Diseases?

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eli5: Why Weren’t European Colonizers As Impacted By New World Diseases as The Natives were by European Diseases?

In: Biology

Europeans lived in more densely populated areas and closer with domesticated animals so diseases spread quickly and the evolutionary arms race for bacteria went into overdrive. It allowed for european immune systems to slowly develop alongside it while people in the new world did not have that advantage.

The New World didn’t have any pandemic style diseases. The only major one might have been syphillis.

CGP Grey does a good [video](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEYh5WACqEk) about it.

In short, to create a pandemic sized disease, it needs to come from animals, and needs a large and dense population to survive. The New World lacked domesticated animals, and they lack dense cities. The absence of these two factors made diseases in the New World rare, and if they occur, they would have burn out rather quick.

In the end, its because there were lots of animals in Europe/Asia/Africa that could be domesticated, and almost none in the americas. As far as I know, only the Lama was somewhat suited for that.

Therefore europeans, asians and africans had a lot more direct contact to animals, and by the 15th century, were already exposed and then immune to a wide variety of diseases, but still carried them. Europe having some megacities (for that time) probably also helped spreading diseases and therby making the survivors immune.

So when europeans and amaricans met, the americans got the same crap that europeans sufferd through in their entire history, except all at once.

The extent of this effect can also be seen in another way: Europeans were just as evil to africans as they were to americans, but, bluntly speaking, today Africa is still full of africans.

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