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The Columbian Exchange and Diseases


Works Cited

Conclusions on Research Findings

Many facts have been presented over the course of these articles and this research.  And with looking over these facts, some conclusions have been reached. 
In the Pre-Columbian time period, Native Americans prospered without the benefit of European influence.  They developed their own cultures that were every bit as civilized as the European culture, but just in their own way.  The introduction of European culture and diseases not only altered or killed all of the native cultures but outright slaughtered millions of native people.  In short, the European contact altered Native American cultures in an overwhelmingly negative manner.  However, European ideals are not completely invalid but did introduced new items and ideas into their cultures such as farming techniques and medical care.
During the Conquest time frame, not only were the native cultures changed forever, but so were that of the Europeans.  While the Europeans gave smallpox to the natives of the Americas, it is believed that syphilis came back to terrorize the population of Europe.  Both sides suffered casualties as a result of this exchange, killing off entire cultures in the Americas and changing the practices in European culture.  However, while the Europeans suffered also, it can not compare to the decimation and destruction in the New World.  Millions suffered from the new and strange disease of small pox, either dying from the disease or from the lack of care that was available to them.  It was an outright massacre by the Europeans, although it was not intentional.  This transfer during the time of conquest and exploration helped change the course of this world's history.
During the course of history and up to the present, these diseases affected billions of people since 1600.  In the course of time, groups such as African-Americans, Native Americans, and Europeans were affected by a change in their entire cultures.  Africans on slave ships were murdered once they began to show symptoms of smallpox.  And if the slaves did reach the colonies with the deadly disease, it transferred to the colonists, affecting their lives also.  Native Americans were not only affected by smallpox during the Conquest Period, but also during the 1800's.  The Army would give Native Americans blankets that had been used by smallpox-infected persons.  But smallpox was not also the only disease changing the shape of history.  Syphilis ravaged the culture of Europe.  It was claimed as a dirty disease, one caused by sexual misconduct and promiscuity.  The Church was greatly influential in the history of how this disease was handled, becoming greatly biased against anyone who had syphilis.  Behaviors such as kissing and public baths went out of style as the disease swept over the entire European continent.  But the Europeans were not the only people affected by this horrible disease.  African-Americans became targets of a form of bioterrorism when in Tuskegee, Alabama, for forty years, they were infected intentionally for a study of how the disease affected untreated men who had the disease.  This, along with the Army's giving of smallpox-laden blankets began the path to a world of bioterrorism.
Bioterrorism and biological warfare has now become a major threat to the world today.  The fear of diseases such as smallpox and anthrax being used in wars and by terrorists has become a true and horrifying reality.  Fear of these outbreaks has led to medical advances in the world of smallpox.  In December 2002, President George W. Bush authorized for the vaccine of smallpox to be available to every person in the United States, allowing citizens to protect themselves from the threat of bioterrorism attacks.
The Columbian Exchange has also led to the medical advancement of the treatment of syphilis.  Mercury had been used from the 1600's till the discovery of penicillin.  Penicillin has allowed syphilis to be a treatable disease that does not usually kill its victim.
Overall, the Columbian Exchange was a necessary exchange to help bring along the medical advances of today for smallpox and syphilis.  It has also helped people learn about the dangers of the diseases and consequences of cultural exchanges.  And without the Columbian Exchange, these consequences would have happened eventually.  However, because of its time, the world is now far advanced in handling the diseases and the situations of any cultural exchange.