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Volume 16, Number 2—February 2010

Historical Review

New Hypothesis for Cause of Epidemic among Native Americans, New England, 1616–1619

John S. MarrComments to Author  and John T. Cathey
Author affiliations: Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, Virginia, USA (J.S. Marr); King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (J.T. Cathey)

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Table 2

Factors related to some of the postulated causes of an epidemic among Native Americans, New England, 1616–1619*

Factor Yellow fever Plague Influenza Smallpox Chickenpox Typhus HBV/HDV Leptospirosis
Characteristic signs and symptoms
Headache/fever Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Jaundice Yes No No No No No Yes Yes
Hemorrhages Yes Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes
Skin lesions†
High attack rate Yes Yes Yes Yes‡ Yes Yes Yes Yes
High death rate Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Endemic in Europe No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Suitable arthropod vector No Yes NA NA NA Yes NA NA
Suitable reservoir host No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Native susceptibility Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
European susceptibility Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes

*HBV, hepatitis B virus; HDV, hepatitis D virus; NA, not applicable.
†Sign mentioned by only 1 person (Thomas Dermer) and possibly referred to another unrelated disease outbreak.
‡Native Americans only.

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