After Villemin and Koch’s discovery that tuberculosis was contagious through the tubercle bacilli in sputum, The National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis (NASPT) began their Anti-Spitting Campaign to discourage such behaviors as public spitting. The NASPT, co-founded in 1904 by over 200 of the most prominent medical men in America, was a voluntary organization formed to unify and expand the country’s regional anti-tuberculosis programs. TB was the number one cause of death in the United States during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and one of the most feared diseases in the world. In an effort to control this health risk, the campaign encouraged towns to outlaw spitting in the streets and on the floors of shops, theaters, taverns, or any public gathering spots. Women refused to wear long dresses into town for fear they may pick up the disease and bring it home with them. Any handkerchief or piece of belonging that was infected was burned, and spittoons were disinfected with carbolic acid and boiling water. By 1915, the NASPT involved children in the campaign, encouraging the Modern Health Crusade, which developed into the new health education system for elementary schools. [Image Source: University of Virginia]
This pamphlet, distributed in 1927 by the Fascist government was part of a national campaign designed to combat tuberculosis. It begins with a quote by Mussolini, explaining that exposure to sun, fresh air, and daily exercise is necessary in order to prevent and fight the disease. The pamphlet illustrations provide information on the disease, describing it as both a “contagious” and a “social illness” rapidly spreading from one sick person to the next healthy person. The advice illustrated includes such tips as to bathe at the least once a week, try to spend most of the day in open air, and to never spit even in a handkerchief. The pamphlets continue to relay guidance on how to monitor an individual when first signs of listlessness and paleness occur. The disease is curable if treated immediately.
[Image Source: Pamphlet Collection Page 1 ]
With almost two million patients dying from tuberculosis each year, a global movement and partnership to stop the disease is necessary. That is exactly why The Stop TB Partnership was established in 2000 and now works with over 500 international organizations, countries, nongovernmental and governmental organizations, and donors to eliminate the disease. In 2001, the partnership launched the "Global Plan to Stop TB" as an effort to reduce tuberculosis prevalence by 2015 to 50% relative to the levels in 1990. Their ultimate goal is complete elimination by 2050