Kissing Can Be Dangerous

The Public Health Campaigns to Prevent and Control Tuberculosis in Western Australia 1900-1960

By Criena Fitzgerald

Tuberculosis became a notifiable disease in 1902, and throughout history has been a major cause of mortality and morbidity in most communities around the world. 'It was like a leper's disease' was the response of an ex-tuberculosis sufferer when asked to describe his experience of having tuberculosis and the public's reaction to his illness. In the first half of the 20th century in Western Australia, the social consequences of tuberculosis were almost as confronting as the disease itself. Until the advent of chemotherapy in 1947, people with the disease were advised to adopt a way of living that would protect those with whom they came in contact. Kissing and close contact with a person infected with tuberculosis were absolutely forbidden. Using the oral histories of patients and doctors, as well as archival research, Kissing can be Dangerous reveals the way in which social and cultural perceptions of tuberculosis-as well as the biological effects-shaped the experience of the tuberculosis sufferer, and the response of public health departments to the disease. Also included are historical photographs and promotional materials from public health campaigns used by the Australian government.


264 pages

Publication Date: 9/1/2006
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781920694784