Cholera Sanitation

Date: c. 1980
Owner: National Library of Medicine
Source Type: Images


This poster, administered by Brazil's State Commission for Preventing and Fighting Cholera, is representative of several public sanitation efforts resulting from the Pan American Sanitary Bureau's work in Latin America. Before the PASB began sanitizing port cities in the early twentieth century, Latin America had very little infrastructure for ensuring that urban centers, much less rural areas, were disease free environments. Yet the pubic sanitation bureaus have proven unable to eliminate ailments like cholera, dengue fever, malaria, and Chagas' disease, diseases that remain most common in the poorest parts of Latin America. National sanitation offices have thus worked to educate the public on how individuals and families can protect themselves from these conditions.

Cholera is an incredibly fatal disease resulting from exposure to a bacterium most often found in untreated water supplies. By the 1920s, cholera had been largely destroyed in the U.S. and Europe and had thus come to be considered an exclusively tropical disease. It could, however, still be exported from the tropics in tainted foodstuffs, thus the PASB hoped to install checks at all Latin American ports to ensure that this disease remained relegated to the tropics.

The goal of this poster is to ensure that Brazilians know how to prevent the spread of cholera, a disease that the government has failed to eliminate. Like other such sanitation propaganda, the message is conveyed through a cartoon, a medium meant to be instructive to those living in poverty with little education. It instructs Brazilians that washing fruits and vegetables, thoroughly cooking seafood, and drinking only treated or boiled water are necessary steps to protecting them from cholera. It also recommends that one avoid eating at restaurants with "poor hygiene conditions."
CITATION: Colera veja como evita-la. United States National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Order #: A031840.