What Were Some Diseases in Colonial America?

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Diseases that plagued early American colonists included typhus, also known as typhus fever or spotted fever, as well as malaria and encephalitis. Dysentery and hypernatremia otherwise known as salt poisoning also posted a notable threat to the health of colonial Americans.

Smallpox was also a sinister threat at the time. One epidemic of smallpox in colonial Williamsburg from 1747 to 1758 affected 754 people. Large populations of Native Americans were wiped away during the colonial period when they contracted illnesses including smallpox. Epidemics of European-introduced disease reduced the population of Native Americans in New England by 90 percent between 1615 and 1633.