“Rabies Is a Killer” Poster, Circa 1977

Exhibit / October 4, 2016

Rabies Poster

Object Name: “Don’t Smuggle Death; Rabies Is a Killer” public information poster
Maker and Year: UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, circa 1977
Object Type: Public information poster
Description: (Richard McKenna)

With endemic labor disputes, recession, and social upheaval threatening from within, the Britain of the late 1970s and early 1980s increasingly saw itself as under siege from external threats. As a growing number of British holidaymakers began to travel abroad, fears surfaced of rabies returning to the country along with smuggled pets, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food embarked upon a poster campaign to raise awareness of the perceived risks. In 1983, the BBC aired The Mad Death, a three-part series detailing the presumptive effects of an outbreak. The series drew the wrath of the local veterinarians, which pointed out that, “contrary to the impression of widespread human deaths which is implied in the film,” there had been only two confirmed human cases in Europe since 1980.

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