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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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As a consequence of a diet with so little nutrition and the excessive heat, whose influence still joins the lack of physical exercises, it is noted that most people in Pará tend to be fat, with weakness of the digestive organs, accompanied by many complications like the discomfort of hemorrhoids. There is a great tendency for edema, a disease which, indisputably leads to death. Indigestions are of particular gravity, when they occur with constipation. Dysentery and blood diarrhea are frequent in October, and last from this warm month until the rains in December. The more the disease progresses in the rainy months, the more they appear putrid and contagious. Tuberculosis, Pleurisy and asthma are less prevalent here than in the southern provinces of the state.

Among the illnesses caused by exposure to the wind, the most common is liver congestion. Vermin, especially in the presence of food and water, are not rare. Among the skin eruptions, I must above all mention the chicken pox, measles and scarlet fever. The first of these broke out at the time of our stay, constituting a malignant epidemic, which sacrificed daily 30 to 40 people, and during half a year snatches more than 3,000 individuals with this condition. In the spring, after the flood waters recede, when it starts to dry, cases of skin boils appear. Tetanus and other tropical nervous conditions are relatively rare; On the other hand, many people suffer from gout and glaucoma. From the records of the few medical doctors in Belem and its surroundings, diseases occur more frequently in Cameta and other towns along the Tocantins, whose waters must cause this terrible disease, for they contain many particles of plaster. (note I).

The population of Belem, at the time of our residence, was estimated to be 24,500 souls; however, strict statistics had not been made (note II). As this city was one of the most recent Portuguese colonies in Brazil, the number of inhabitants of the high bourgeoisie of European blood are relatively greater here than in other places. There are less numbers of the mullatoes and blacks, because until the middle of the previous century, Indians were employed exclusively for tending the crops and for public works.

The importance of black slaves was decided when Don Jose, in the year 1755 said :” I have decreed the liberation of the Indians.” Among the inhabitants of Belem and the owners of ranches of the surrounding areas, as well as in the neighboring towns and villages, are many settlers from the islands of the Azores, here called Angicos; Also some of the families, who emigrated to Brazil, leaving of their own free will

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