The Evolution of Disease: Nomadic to Permanent Civilization


e many other areas of history, medicine and disease are both still rapidly evolving and changing continuously. Practices that were once thought to be "good medicine" are often found to not actually help or even do more harm than good many years later. Often, what was once perceived as a great cure, such as drilling holes in someones head to treat migraines, is today considered barbaric and ancient.

A Nomadic Existence

When looking back at disease and the way it effects society, one of the biggest factors that increases the spread of disease is population. Early nomadic tribes were not like to see as many of the infectious diseases that would later plague man. In large part, because they seldom lived in one place long enough to pollute its water supply. The early nomads also did not keep domesticated animals, which has always been one of the major catalysts of disease.

However, this period of relative disease free existence did not last long, as soon mankind would leave Africa and begin populating other areas of the Earth. Soon, humans turned to farming and moved away from a nomadic existence, instead clearing land and growing the grains and grasses that would later evolve to the wheats and grains we use today. Often, this was out of necessity, as otherwise there would have been no way to feed the rapidly increasing population.

The Move to Settle

The change from a nomadic existence to a more permanent was both a positive and negative move. It is one of the main reasons for population growth, as more people were needed to tend to the lands and there were fewer risks involved with staying in one area. Soon, cities and towns would be built, paving the way for laws, royalty, and other social interactions.

However, for all the good that leading a more permanent existence offered, it also allowed disease to catch up with mankind and flourish. Rather quickly, diseases and pathogens that had once only been found in wild animals began to spread to humans. Ultimately it would be this jump from animal disease to human disease that would bring such diseases like small pox, measles, and influenza.

Other diseases, like salmonella, were spread through food, while water pollution would help spread diseases like polio, typhoid, hepatitis, and cholera. Parasites like roundworm and hookworm soon found their way into the human body, finding an environment that was much more conducive to life than that of the animals they had once lived on. These parasites soon flourished and became a common part of life for most people.

For the most part, the process of settling and remaining in an area was the catalyst that brought us most of the diseases we have today, some of which still have not been completely eradicated by modern medicine, such as malaria.

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