What is Cocoliztli?

Cocoliztli is a deadly epidemic that swept across Mexico and Central America in the 16th century. This exotic disease was first reported in 1545 and lasted until 1550. The epidemic killed millions of people, mostly in the Mexican Gulf region and Central America. It is considered to be one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history and was believed to have been even deadlier than the Black Death.

During this time, modern medical methods and treatments did not exist so the disease ran rampant with no one to decipher what was causing it or how to treat it. Due to this, Cocoliztli remains an enigmatic illness that is still largely a mystery to this day.

What Are the Symptoms of Cocoliztli?

Cocoliztli had a variety of symptoms that made it hard to diagnose. Symptoms typically started with a high fever that could last up to four days, followed by episodes of violent involuntary seizures. Other symptoms included:

• Severe headaches
• Rash
• Bleeding
• Inflammation
• Redness in the eyes
• Coughing
• Stomach pains
• Severe joint aches
• Vomiting

Cocoliztli was especially hard to identify because many of the symptoms mimicked other illnesses that were already present at that time.

What Was Cocoliztli’s Impact?

Cocoliztli was a truly devastating disease. It’s believed to have killed between 7 and 18 million people in the Mexican region during the epidemic. This is estimated to be 15 to 25 percent of the region’s population at that time.

The epidemic created a mass disruption in society and drastically influenced trade networks, migration and even settlement patterns. It completely changed the course of history for Mexico and Central America.

Theories About What Caused Cocoliztli

Due to the lack of medical knowledge of the time, the exact cause of Cocoliztli remains a mystery. There are several theories as to what caused this devastating epidemic.

Theory 1: Smallpox

It’s been speculated that this epidemic was caused by a strain of smallpox that was brought to the region by Spanish conquerors. Smallpox was known to have devastating effects and the symptoms of this epidemic share some similarities with the effects of smallpox.

Theory 2: Typhus

Another theory is that Cocoliztli was caused by typhus, which is thought to have been brought to the region by European settlers who had contact with rats or fleas, who were also known to spread this disease.

Theory 3: Salmonella Infection

The third theory is that Cocoliztli was a form of salmonella infection. This theory has been proposed based on the presence of similar symptoms and the fact that the Aztec population was not used to consuming salmonella in their food.

Theory 4: Hantavirus

The fourth theory is that Cocoliztli was caused by a hantavirus. This is supported by the fact that some of the symptoms of this epidemic, such as fever and joint pains, are similar to those caused by a hantavirus infection.

Cocoliztli is a devastating epidemic that swept across Mexico and Central America in the 16th century with devastating effects. Despite its impact, the exact cause of this enigmatic illness remains a mystery to this day. Scientists and medical experts have proposed several theories as to what caused Cocoliztli, ranging from smallpox to hantavirus infection. Although more research is needed, the mystery of this deadly epidemic is one that will likely remain unsolved for many years to come.