Time Travel and Health Risks in the Future and Past

Would appreciate your thoughts on this if Time Travel ever becomes a reality! I’ll be incorporating your answers into a Blog I’m writing about this as I’d like your thoughts.

I. To begin with, lets say there hypothetically is Time Travel in 2010. A Healthy individual, let’s say 30 years old who has had all his shots for 2010 diseases/germs like the Flu Shot, a Booster Shot, etc., goes into the past with just regular clothing on not a protective outfit for disease. Lets say he makes 6 trips back: 5 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 250 years ago, 1000 years ago and the beginning of man.

  1. Will he catch any different germs/sickness/disease that he would not have caught in 2010? Would the answer be the same for each of these time periods? If he does catch anything from these eras that no one has in 2010, would he cause an epidemic that we would not be able to curtail in a timely manner when he comes back in 2010?

  2. Would he be causing germs/sickness/disease from 2010 into these time periods? Again would the answer be the same for each of these time periods?
    I’m assuming if he did he would cause epidemics beyond belief because of the lack of modern science to deal with 2010 disease.

II. Now he Time Travels to the Future, again assume he’s healthy. He goes 1 year into the future then 10 years then 100 years and then 1000 years wearing just normal clothing and no protective gear.

  1. Could he possibly instantly die anytime 1 year and beyond because of whatever germs/sickness/disease are now on Earth?

  2. Would he be bringing in germs/sickness/disease from 2010 into these time periods? Would they cause epidemics?

  3. When he goes back to 2010 could he be bringing back germs/disease/sickness from the future that again would cause an epidemic of massive proportions?

III. If somehow he gets sick or injured and can be treated by whatever means is available in the past or the future would he be better off forgoing any treatment (assume say a metal rod in his arm from 50 years ago wouldn’t have aged 50 years when he comes back to the present) unless it is life and death as there could be serious medical consequences in the present?

Thanks for any or all of your answers.

Just out of curiosity, are all of your blog posts going to be labeled, “written by Hershon4, researched and fact-checked by the Straight Dope Message Board?” Based on your other threads, it seems like you’re picking topics you know little about, and asking us to write stuff that you can distill and post on your blog to make advertising money. Is that about right?

Off the top of my head, at the very least it would be like isiting an area of the world that you had not yet visited, with whatever local diseases and bacteria are there.

Hundreds of years ago, basic sanitation - soap, running water, rats and their fleas carrying diseases - was much mor prevalent. Death from infections was common, and from diseases, since in the last 100 years or so, antibiotics have become more common (too common) for fighting diseases and infections.

Tuberculosis (“consumption”) was common. So was smallpox; new populations of Indians getting their first serious exposure to the disease dropped like flies. (The Victoria BC museum has a very good collection of articles describibg this last native epidemic of the later 1800’s). By the time we invent time travel, smallpox vaccines will be gone I’m sure. Will your traveller come back after a short visit for necessary medical treatment for tuberculosis exposure?

There’s some evidence that the most virulent forms of the diseases disappear first and the types that survive to reinfect in later waves are the less virulent germs. The first wave of bubonic plague wiped out 1/3 to 1/2 of european populations it encountered. The subsequent waves were much less fatal, and probably not just because a few people had immunity. (We kind of see this today, that the original AIDS which seemed to kill its victims within a few years has been replaced by a lesser strains and its victims now hang on for years - even in Africa where the drugs are less available.)

Other plagues to look out for might include the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919. Even normal childhood diseases we currently are supposed to immunize against were significant killers 100 years ago. Pioneer graveyards are full of people who died in their 30’s and 40’s, and childhood disease death rates were pretty sad. Even the kings of Europe could expect up to half their offspring to die before the age of 10. The common dwarfs and hunchbacks that seemed so often to be entertainment in the rich houses of medieval europe were usually a result of deformities due to sickness during pregnancy.

I shudder to think whether our moderm, hygiene-happy stomachs could tolerate food from the days before health standards and sterilization were common. One story I recall from childhood was that the bible characters were big on drinking wine because a drink with alcohol was less likely to contain significant levels of bacteria. All the parasites and diseases that hindered the exploration of the non-desert tropics would be a significant problem - mosquitos and malaria, the tsetse fly and sleeping sickness in Africa… even tapeworms close to home. “Nit-picking” was something real back then, not an expression; lice were an epidemic where people washed their clothes maybe once a season.

A lot of our modern healthiness depends on a massive group effort in sanitation, wide availability of clean running water and hygiene prducts, general cleanliness, and quick treatment of diseases before they spread. Few diseases ever reach the critical mass to become epidemic.

Of course getting local medical attention from before 100 years ago was as likely to be more fatal than the disease. That’s a whole separate topic.

We did a version of this question a week ago. Could you have the courtesy to search first?

I think you meant to say basic sanitation was much less prevalent.

I think I meant something but I didn’t proofread. You get the idea anyway, I hope.

It seems some people here are socially retarded. I hope that isn’t considered a board violation as I’m just bluntly reacting to what I consider an unnecessary rudeness not done in fun but mean spirited. My topic has nothing fully to do with water in the past though it may touch on a previous topic partially so dude you are out of line in my opinion. If however it is generally advised to use this site’s Search Engine before I post a topic on anything, please advise me and I’ll follow protocol. If I had done this and somehow noticed the water post, I still would have posted this topic, dude.

I’m not making any great amount of money per blog post on my blog- moderator I am responding to a question not spamming, and this has been something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while because I didn’t find anything online that could really help me and so I wanted to know what other people thought and I just wanted to do be upfront as I thought there might be a consensus of certain ideas. I plan to post on this site if I am not turned off by some of the people here and not blog but I had a few things first that I wanted to see if I got some good ideas for my blog. None of the other 3 items I posted had what I was looking for in terms of background.

Really nothing to add here. For some reason people seem to have gone out of there way to make me feel unwelcome here and if this persists I’ll just leave and try not to hit my head on the way out. All of which is a shame as I do enjoy reading the questions and answers on this website.


Let me just add if I did write a blog post based on information from a topic I posted here I would acknowledge and provide a link to this site which would get this site more traffic and also acknowledge a screen name individually if it was something uniquely said by them. If its the case that you don’t want new people to come to this site, that’s cool and would explain some things to me about my “welcome here”. This is becoming a distraction so if I continue on on this site I will not be responding to things that have to do with me and not the topic at hand.

[Moderator Warning]

Hershon4, first off, insults are not permitted in GQ. Your comments in post #8 are way out of line.

Second, as I mentioned before, we have concerns about your using this site to publicize your blog. I think the moderation staff needs to discuss this before we allow you to continue.

General Questions Moderator