Re: diseases and immunity

Mary Beth Williams (
22 Jul 1996 22:17:52 GMT

In <4t0ncs$> (Gerold Firl)
>In article <4slbji$>, Beth Williams) writes:

>|> So, what you're saying is that within these *virgin soil* TB
>|> people are dying of *skeletal TB* in a week or two?????
>The dubos reference cited by macneill stated that an epidemic of TB in
>an immunologically inexperienced indian tribe produced symptoms of
>meningitis and showed evidence of bacterial colonization of other
>internal organs, as I've repeatedly informed you. It says nothing
>skeletal TB.

Yes, and Gerold we've gone over this time and time again... How were
either MacNeill or Dubos certain that the disease which was described
was in fact TB, _IF_ it had never manifested itself in this form
before???? Were autopsies performed??? Samples sent to a laboratory
to determine if this was in fact TB? You stated that this was
nineteenth century...In Canada... Just HOW did they manage to get such
accurate information? And funny that we haven't seen such a
manifestation at other times, in other purportedly *non-immune*

>|> Or are they
>|> cannabilizing infected Europeans and thus developing the rare form
>|> intestinal and mesenteric lymphatic TB?
>Charming hypothesis, but I'll let you develop that one on your own.

The point here, Gerold, is that if it _was_ in fact the rarer form of
intestinal and mesenteric lymphatic TB which MacNeill and Dubos
happened upon (which I doubt, as it could have been any other number of
intestinal diseases), then the Indian group in question would have had
to have contracted the disease through ingestion of a contaminated
source, most likely stolen/stray cattle, just like Europeans were
contracting it for centuries. Cases of the disease in later
generations were contracted through more traditional routes, and
therefore manifested itself in the usual pulmonary/skeletal symptoms.

Trying to build your case here is running into a slew of hurdles,

1.) Indian populations were, most likely, not *immunologically
inexperienced* when it came to TB, as there is substantial evidence
that TB existed in pre-Contact populations.

2.) Your use of ONE citations is problematic for any host of reasons,
a. Its a citation (MacNeill) of a citation (Dubos), the latter you
haven't even looked up to see from where (historical or physical) he
derives his *evidence*.
b. The purported claim of TB derives from a case in Canada in the 19th
century, long before appropriate methods to diagnose rare forms of TB
were available.
c. If it was in fact intestinal TB, the disease was not a *mutation*
in Indian populations, but had been experienced by Europeans for
centuries (although less likely to be seen in Indians, as it was
contracted through ingestion.)

3.) You have only one (albeit weak) citation, and haven't shown any
other disparity between TB mortality rates between Europeans and
Indians, as TB had, in many European populations, the highest mortality
of all diseases for those ages 18-50.

>|> OK????? But you just said that in virgin-soil epidemics, pulmonary
>|> was NOT the culprit... Thus, one would be left to believe that you
>|> hence describing skeletal TB as the perpetrator.
>No. You claim that skeletal TB shows up in a very low percentage of
>cases: 3-5%. I am accepting your claim, in the absense of further
>It does not, however change this discussion in a material way. I had
>stated that TB, which is usually a pulmonary infection in experienced
>populations, spread to other parts of the body in the case cited by
>macneill and dubos. You seem to be unable to digest this information,
>for whatever reason, and go on to suggest that I believe that
>*skeletal TB* was a major cause of death among indian populations -
>where do you get this stuff?

Re-read your own posts, Gerold... You have TB as an epidemic in Contact
populations, something that you have been unable to prove
archaeologically or historically (with the exception of a citation you
haven't fully investigated.) TB is _usually_ a pulmonary infection in
_all_ victims, European, Indian or otherwise, however, can spread to
other parts of the body, namely the skeleton... However, it does so in
ALL populations, not only Indians. Intestinal TB is contracted through
ingestion, and so is never a pulmonary infection, unless a secondary
infection develops.

>|> >Whereas, in dubos and macneill are to be believed, TB in a
>|> >virgin-soil epidemic killed much more quickly.
>|> You've yet to give any supportive evidence to these citations (and
>|> not _my_ job to look this stuff up for you -- they're your
>|> you should know the primary research from which they derive.)
>I wasn't suggesting that it was "your job" to look up things "for me".
>You claim to be an anthropologist who has done forensic-type field
>on northwest indianm populations,

Try again, Gerold...Northeast Indian populations...

>including surveys of skeletal
>evidence of TB infection, and yet when I provide you with a reference
>describing unusual data (the TB epidemic manifesting as meningitis in
>the first generation, settling down to the familiar pulmonary pattern
>two generations later) you don't want anything to do with it.

The problem is, that you can't provide me with accurate data... If you
happened upon a group of people you don't know, and you see a number of
them tossing their cookies, then run back and say they all had food
poisoning, why should I accept that diagnosis without further
investigation as to _your_ diagnosing credentials? Are you a doctor?
Did you collect bodily fluid samples? Take notes? Autopsy the dead?
So _how_ do you know it was food poison? I just want you to be able to
tell me HOW Dubos knew what he (or whomever) was describing was in fact
TB. You can't even tell me if Dubos was the one who gathered the
information, or heard it from a different source. Yes, I could go look
it up, but its YOUR citation, and one on which your basing your entire
argument, and you haven't even looked it up.

This is
>consistant with your previous pattern: you are simply not interested
>new information, especially if it conflicts with your pre-set ideas.

New information or heresay? You're not even sure. Why should I waste
my time on your *new information* when you haven't even taken the time
to examine it thoroughly (or at all, for that matter.)

>|> You've yet to post a shred of evidence to support your claims of
>|> genetic differential in Old World versus New World immunity,
>|> particularly in light of the negative evidence which has been
>|> European 5-year-olds and their Indian counterparts were equally
>|> susceptible to smallpox, and their mortality rates the same.
>How do you know this? What evidence exists to support this claim?

Gerold, have you been asleep?.. Go back to DejaNews... I posted
citations on this earlier in the thread.

>|> and even our lamentable cannibalism
>|> >thread from a few months ago, where you stubbornly denied, in the
>|> >of multifactorial evidence, that your beloved iroquois ate
>|> Gerold, you shoot yourself in the foot with this one... I guess
>|> not at all familiar with the long-term animosity between the
>|> (Algonquins like me) and the Mohawks (the purported *cannibals* of
>|> European ethnohistory.)
>No. We've gone over this before. It wasn't just the mohawks. The
>iroquois and huron were also cannibals.

Uh, Gerold... Mohawks _are_ Iroquois (Haudenosaunee)...

MB Williams
Dept. of Anthro., UMass-Amherst