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Native American or New World Diseases

Indian or New World Term

English Translation / Definition





El Becho



Calentura del Piojo

Anthrax in Mexico. [A System of Practical Medicine, Pepper, 1885].




El Becho


Inca term for epidemic typhus [Bray]

Cocolixtle meco

Michoacan Indian word for Typhus. Translates to spotted fever.

Cuban Itch


El Becho

Epidemic gangrenous rectitis. So far as known, this very fatal disease seems to be confined to the natives of low lying, hot, damp regions in the north of South America and, perhaps, to the natives of Fiji and other islands of the South Pacific. In Guiana it is known as "Caribi" or Indian sickness, in Venezuela as "Bicho" or "El Becho." It is said to be very contagious, and appears to be a form of rapidly spreading phagedaena, which starts from the neighborhood of the anus. Occasionally it may begin higher up - in the colon. In this case it is called the "high" form; in the other, the "low" or rectal form. Animals, as well as men, are attacked. [Manson1898]

A generally fatal disease affecting chiefly children in the tropics, characterized by gangrenous ulceration of the rectum and anus, accompanied by frequent watery stools and tenesmus. Also called: Epidemic gangrenous proctitis, Caribi, Indian Sickness and El Becho. [Cancerweb]


Naso-oral leishmaniasis, bulbas braziliana, Breda's disease, a chronic ulcerative affection of the nose and mouth caused by Leishmania Tropica. [Stedman 1918].

Mucocutaneous Leishmaniasis [Wordnet].

Leishmaniasis of the mouth, pharynx, and nose that is prevalent in Central and So. America. [Webster]

Indian Sickness

El Becho


Aztec term for epidemic typhus. [Bray]


A pulmonary disease affecting children three or four months old in South America, which is promptly fatal. [Dunglison1868].


Blue stain. A disease which prevails in Mexico, and which appears to be a variety of pityriasis nigra. [Thomas1875]

A contagious skin disease prevalent in tropical America, caused by a spirochete (Treponema carateum) and marked by extreme thickening and spotty discoloration of the skin. [Heritage]

Pinta Fever

A term used in Mexico for Rocky Mountain spotted fever.




Altitude sickness. [CancerWEB].

A sickness common in the elevated districts of South America and elsewhere, which attacks those unaccustomed to breathe the rarified atmosphere. It strongly resembles sea sickness, with a most acute and depressing throbbing in the head. It does not often affect the respiration greatly. [Dunglison1874]

Sao Paulo Fever

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever


A kind of highly adynamic fever, common in South America. [Dunglison1874].

 Central American Indian term for typhus. [CancerWEB]


1531 outbreak of measles in Central America. Translates to the small leprosy.




Cowpox Leishmaniasis. A leishmaniasis of the skin occurring in Peru. [Webster]


The term "yaws" is thought to be of Caribbean origin. In the language of the Carib Indian people, "yaya" was the word for "a sore."  [Medicinenet]