Alternative History
New World
Old World
Other articles

European treatments for papatlaca:

Europe developed multiple theories about the cause of papatlaca and the way it was transmitted. Attempts at treating the disease varied.

  • Belief: Papatlaca was transmitted by New World goods such as corn, tomatoes, tobacco, gold or silver. Or it was transmitted by any body who had visited the New World.
Treatment: Such goods or persons were to be avoided.
Effectiveness: This proved relatively ineffective and the aversion to gold and silver caused further damage to the economy.
  • Belief: The disease was a punishment from God for: treating converted natives poorly -or- not treating heathens severely enough -or- being too lenient with the Jews (or French, or Portuguese, etc) -or- not obeying the Pope -or- giving the Pope too much power -or- . . . and on and on.
Treatment: More prayer; especially in large gatherings in churches. Religious processions of holy artifacts though cities and country side. Penance; often by some sort of self punishing act such as flagellation or fasting.
Effectiveness: Church gatherings and processions increased the spread of the disease. Punishing penance served to weaken the immune system.
  • Belief: Disease was caused by snakes which swam out of the sea.
Treatment: Stay away from the sea. Ingest dried snake meat as a medicine.
Effectiveness: Not an effective treatment for papatlaca.
  • Belief: Disease was caused by Jews who had poisoned wells or who coated coins with poison.
Treatment: Force Jews out of city or kill them. Avoid money.
Effectiveness: Not an effective treatment for papatlaca.
  • Belief: Disease was caused "bad air".
Treatment: Stay away humid areas or from the breath of sick people.
Effectiveness: Actually pretty effective at avoiding or delaying infection. But the policy of avoiding the sick does not help a sick person's chances of survival.
  • Belief: Disease was caused by alignment of the stars or planets.
Treatment: None. Just wait it out
Effectiveness: Not an effective treatment for papatlaca.
  • Belief: The disease was aggravated by a misalignment of the body's humors. The body produced too much phlegm which is associated with water.
Treatment: Deny the victim water and perform frequent blood lettings.
Effectiveness: This treatment is very harmful and increase the chances of death.

Aztoltec Treatments for Papatlaca:

The Aztroltecs also believed that the disease was caused by supernatural entities but, over the centuries, they had developed an effective treatment.

At the first signs of the shaking disease, the Aztoltecs would swaddle the victim tightly. As the disease progressed they dribbled a salty, watery, corn porridge into the victim's mouth on an almost hourly basis (atole porridge with salt, yellow chilis and honey added) . The victim was also encouraged to drink water which came from a temple to Ixtliton. This helped keep the sufferer from injuring himself from the shakes, kept him warm, and kept him hydrated. These simple techniques could triple a person's chances of survival.

When word of the Aztoltec treatments reached Europe, they were altered and made less effective. Many Europeans resisted the swaddling because they thought of it as a death shroud. And instead of continually dribbling small amounts of food and water into the victims mouth they tried fewer larger feedings which the victim was often not able to keep down. Nevertheless, communities which adopted altered Aztoltec treatments markedly increased their rate of survival.

As a side effect, corn was often considered to be medicinal, and was in great demand in some regions.

Back to papatlaca