Been there, did that

by | Mar 16, 2020 | Uncategorized

We have been here before…and have the immune system to show it.

You and I will not remember all of the times diseases have impacted humanity. The recent Covid-19 epidemic is not the first.

Our grandparents will remember a lot. There may even be a few diseases that you will remember such as pneumonia, malaria, AIDS, and Ebola. But that only scratches the surface.

Improvements in agriculture and rural farms over the last 400 years have reduced the number of diseases that spread from animal to humans. Even then, domestic animals are known to get diseases that can be spread to humans. A few examples: Poultry (26 diseases), Horse (35), dogs (65), cattle (50), and pigs (42).*

Our history has been greatly influenced by various outbursts such as the ‘Black Death” of the 14th century, cholera (19th century), 1918 Spanish Flu, small pox (has been around for at least 3,000 years**), and polio (discovered in 1908***), and AIDS (recognized as an epidemic in 1980*).

COVID-19 is not our first rodeo, and will not be our last. We decide if and how our behavior might change to minimize diseases like this in the future. We have wintered over many diseases in the past by changing behavior and implementing safeguards (such as vaccines and hand washing).

Understanding the process and history gives us a glimpse of what has been used in the past, what has worked, and what the impacts have been. If you enjoy reading history books, you might want to pick up “Plagues and Peoples” by William H. McNeill. He will take you through a well-researched history of epidemics and how human behavior has often created the ‘perfect storm’ for outbursts. Check the library, it may be available there.

*Plagues and People, William H. McNeill, ISBN 0-385-12122-9
**How Smallpox Changed the World (
***What ever happened to Polio? (

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