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Setting, earth like world, length of year and seasons are similar, general technology level at par with classical Greece, magic uncommon/difficult to master, connections made between arrival of ships and illness but no real understanding of the mechanisms.

  • Two continents have been separated for 100.000 years. Ocean currents have enabled occasional transferal of people from the southern continent to the northern during the years due to people in primitive crafts being washed away during storms and other similar occurrences.
  • The climate in the north is temperate and in the south it is tropical. Crossing the ocean southwards takes about 20 days.
  • 300 years ago ship technology in the north made it possible for ships to cross south. However the humans in the south has little defences to some diseases that have developed in the north in relation to domestication of large birds.

  • In our world outbreaks of new strains of diseases seem to be following the change of the seasons.

I'm wondering if it would be possible to restrict trade to certain times of year in order to minimise the risk of larger outbreaks of illnesses?

And further when would this be?

I like to think that it is feasible that people could make this connection after 300 years of occasional trade, but I could be overly optimistic.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sadly, you are being overly optimistic. The germ theory of disease didn't emerge until the late 19th century. At that technical level diseases were believed to be caused by humours & anger of the gods or sorcery. Have a look here for research. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek_medicine Start with what happened in the real world & invent your world. $\endgroup$ – a4android Aug 24 '16 at 7:59
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No, unlikely, not at all, inconceivable.

Plagues are a result of animal illness transferring to humans, all that intercity travel did was spread plague in between cities. If trading was cut off, it would not prevent plague and while it may slow it down, the cons of trading being limited would far out way the pros.

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Plagues are caused largely by Animals and Humans living in close proximity to each other in vary dense places... like cities.

This is why Native American immunities were so weak. They didn't live in cities so they didn't have plagues and as such didn't have immunities built up so when Europeans came to the Americas it destroyed the native population.

In other words, isolationism of a city might prevent plagues to traveling and that would help prevent spread overall, but that lack of disease spreading will only result in those not hit by the plague to be very weak when someone who doesn't practice this visit cause a larger scale problem which will kill more people. The EU/NA example is just an extreme example of what happens when such a thing happens.

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Man belief that his doings are the cause of all the issues for him and that he must attack all perceived threats for his sake and the planets are grossly over estimated. Evan if man stopped all trade the spread of virus and bacteria would occur, it might be slowed from weeks to months or maybe years. But we can not stop all the migrations of insect and birds that travel north and south. Nor can we stop the ocean currents and global wind patterns that move tons of materials around the globe.
It is the spread and outbreaks that have provided protection from some very deadly outbreaks. For instance the flu pandemic was deadly for those people who had lower exposure to other viruses, but barely harmful to those who had been exposed to other deadly viruses in the past.
Sadly, man is better off with exposure and thinning by exposure to keep the mankind safer in the long run. It has been the isolation that has caused the most deadly occurrences in the past such as smallpox from settlers in the Americas.

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As others have said, the seasons won't help you. There are seasons where diseases are more common but that's more due to social factors than anything else.

However, if they want to protect themselves there is another option: Pick an uninhabited island. The northerners can only be on the island from the new moon to the quarter moon. The southerners can only be on the island from the full moon to the three quarters.

Trade goods are left on the island for the other side to pick up. If it's an agreed trade one side drops goods, the other takes them and drops their goods, then the first side takes them--one month for one side, no delay for the other.

If it's not an agreed trade one side leaves goods. The other side looks them over and leaves goods. At this point each side takes turns, either adding to their pile, taking their pile (they decide a deal can't be reached) or taking the other side's pile (accepting the trade.) Slow, but pretty much safe.

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