By Paul Hackett
Read or Download A Very Remarkable Sickness: Epidemics in the Petit Nord, 1670-1846 PDF
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Extra info for A Very Remarkable Sickness: Epidemics in the Petit Nord, 1670-1846
The measure of this ability to spread is known as diffusion potential. Anthropologist Ann Ramenofsky suggested that the diffusion potential of a particular disease varies with three factors: the length of the infectious period; the population density of the location and the surrounding region; and the contact mechanisms between communities or regions. Using the characteristic infectious period as a measure, she assigned a rank to several of the major epidemic diseases, dividing them into three classes (Table 2).
Geographer Peter Haggett offered a similar explanation in examining the introduction of smallpox, measles, influenza, and rubella to Australia, New Zealand, and the southwest Pacific. Again, decreases in the trip length led directly to the introduction of "new" diseases. Compared to the voyages to New England, the journey to Hudson Bay remained of long duration during the entire eighteenth century. An analysis of the travel times from their final departure point in the British Isles to the first landing at the HBC posts during the period from 1719 to 1737 reveals a mean duration of just over sixty-seven days, or of more than seven weeks.
It is also probable that Old World diseases were extremely rare in this part of North America at this time. The first widespread epidemic in northeastern North America occurred along the coast of New England between 1616 and approximately 1619, but failed to spread far inland, being limited to parts of present-day Massachusetts, 31 32 CHAPTER ONE Maine, and Rhode Island. This devastating episode caused extremely high levels of mortality. 35 Two smaller outbreaks occurred in the interior, not too distant from the Petit Nord.