"Ewwww, koodies!" These are the words spoken from the mouth of an eight year old girl who just brushed shoulders with an eight year old boy. As early as age eight humans are introduced to contagion. The thought of many children is once you get "Koodies" from someone else, everybody would have it by the end of the day. Although we know that this is not true, the metaphor of contagion is the same. When reading about contagion and its definitions by different cultures, it can be defined a lot of different ways. As early as ancient and medieval times, a contagious disease meant that it could be spread from one person to another by simply touching them. As centuries moved on, contagion began to be viewed as more of a spread rather than touch that was the cause of more disease. During an epidemic or panic, (such as the Black Death) contagion was not only known in the infectious disease, it also remained in the concept of modern psychiatry.
Metaphorically speaking, contagion can be involved not only in illness. American influence in the world can be viewed as a contagion.
The issue of contagion is not only seen in medicine and disease. American influence on the world is a contagion in many ways. When visiting a European country, you can walk down the street and view a totally different culture. However, you could be walking down the next street and see a McDonalds and order a double cheeseburger and a Coke. Americans influence has spread to every modern culture. This is viewed as contagion because of the fact that so many countries have taken American influence such as Coke-a-Cola and McDonalds.
American influence doesn't stop with just food. With American troops in Iraq, democracy is trying to spread into the Middle Eastern countries. In the American viewpoint, if a successful democracy develops in the Middle East, hopefully a domino effect will occur and other countries surrounding will take democracy as their form of government as well. The "red scare" was an example of the fear of the domino effect, when Communism was starting to spread in Eastern Europe. This spread of democracy is just like looking at a disease. Once a person is infected with a contagious disease, then the people around them will soon be infected with the same disease
After perusing the material about contagion, it's easy to distinguish where it fits in the puritan era. I believe that contagion was considered an illness during this time because of the social views that many of these puritans had. If someone came down with a disease, than that meant that they committed a sin, or that god was punishing them. In historical association of contagion, it is viewed as hereditary. In puritan times, if someone is sick, they must have committed a sin, and that means that their whole family commits sins, and that they will all be plagued with this illness. In more modern times, this means that a disease such as diabetes could run in the family simply because of the hereditary genes that we all possess with our families.
After looking at contagion as a whole, it's easy to say that it is considered a disease. It's easy to consider it a disease when talking about illness, but it is a little harder to distinguish it as a disease differently. Once you look at the American influence across the globe, it's easier to make that decision. American influence may be considered a contagion, but its not horrible news compared to contagion as illness.