Today's information revolution illuminates diseases spread in the age of discovery

By Matt Crenson, 14:17 PM July 30, 2013

After European diseases arrived on American shores, chroniclers wrote graphic descriptions of depopulated villages, great leaders felled by illness and whole tribes wiped out by smallpox. Yet apart from such accounts almost nothing is known about the wave of disease that hit the Americas 500 years ago.

Some researchers have argued that the New World’s immunological naiveté caused as much as 90 percent of the Native American population to be wiped out almost as soon as Europeans and...

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