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Niuē-fekai (or Savage) Island and its People

Diseases, &c

Diseases, &c.

This is a subject I know little about, but will mention some of the names the people apply. Fakafoha is a boil; huijua and fefe is elephantiasis, which, however, cannot be common, for I saw but one case; kai-mule is the fever of elephantiasis; kaifao is asthma; fotofoto is massage, called generally in other islands lomilomi; heahea is the thrush; tata is to bleed, a proceeding the people are very fond of now-a-days. Tatalu is an epidemic, and it is somewhat strange that an attack of influenza affects nearly everybody after the visit of each vessel. In the case of sneezing in a child, the parent says, “Tupu; Tupu-ola: Tupu-ola-moui,” which is somewhat like the Maori expression, “Tihe-mauri ora,” said under like circumstances.

Leprosy is unknown in the island, though supposed to have been introduced there once.

Disease of any kind the people seem to have always been terribly afraid of. Their opposition to Captain Cook landing was due to the fear of the introduction of some fell disease. It was the same with John Williams in 1830, and again in the case of the first native and Samoan teachers. Clearly the people must at some period of their history have been afflicted with some terrible scourge after the visit of strangers, and this has engendered a fear of all intercourse with outsiders ever since.