Disease Prevention — World War II US Propaganda Posters

While most people focus their attention on the front lines of battle, the prevention of various diseases during war is actually a very important but easily overlooked part of the work.
World War II US Propaganda Posters Disease Prevention

While most people focus their attention on the front lines of battle, the prevention of various diseases during war is actually a very important but easily overlooked part of the work. Without good disease prevention, often this non-combat attrition of disease is more severe than combat attrition. And this, the prevention and treatment of various types of sexually transmitted diseases has always been the focus of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Public Health Service, especially gonorrhea and syphilis. As early as the Civil War, more than 100,000 men in the U.S. Union Army were unable to fight because they had contracted gonorrhea.

On May 24, 1938, the U.S. Congress passed the La Follette-Bulwinkle Act to strengthen venereal disease prevention and control, marking the beginning of another major effort to prevent and control venereal disease in the United States. This was followed by the “Eight Point Agreement,” the most important of which was “the widespread control of sexually transmitted diseases in areas where U.S. military personnel and defense workers are concentrated.

Syphilis, a million new victims each year (U.S. Public Health Service, 1941)
A blood test for all. Protects you against Syphilis (U.S. Public Health Service, 1940)

The War Department later issued three consecutive orders in 1940: requiring all commanders at all levels of the Army to strictly adhere to all regulations on venereal disease prevention; further requiring commanders at all levels to specify to their subordinates the places where their presence was strictly prohibited; and requiring all Army commanders to strictly enforce health safeguards on their subordinates, who were to be immediately prohibited from participating in any activity. However, judging from the 850,000 new cases of venereal disease in 1940 alone, the local ordinances were simply unable to deal with the rampant prostitution trade, and there were growing indications that the War Department’s ordinances were clearly failing to provide strict discipline. As a result, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Andrew May (D-MA) submitted a proposal to the U.S. House of Representatives on January 20, 1941, to restrict prostitution in areas where U.S. troops were stationed, making it illegal to engage in any form of prostitution within a three-mile radius of military bases and naval ports.

Venereal disease covers the earth. Learn to protect yourself now (Phil Williams, 1940)
Make our men as fit as our machines (U.S. Department of the Navy, 1940)

Of course, such a ban did not have much effect, but received criticism and questions. In the midst of these questions and criticisms, McNutt, who was then the head of the Federal Security Administration, sent a letter to Roosevelt on Nov. 27, hoping that greater attention would be paid to disease prevention, especially STD prevention. Of course, as large numbers of U.S. troops began to be stationed overseas, STD prevention and control efforts faced very serious challenges.

She maybe.. a bag of trouble (U.S. Public Health Service, 1941)
Men who know say no to prostitutes (John Ferrie, 1940)
Two men who had Syphilis (Ben Klein, 1940)
Don’t take chances with pickups! (Federal Security Service, 1941)
Prophylaxis prevents disease (Artur Sheikh, 1942)
Knock out V.D.(Wyeth Corporation, 1942)
Easy to get.. Syphilis and Gonorrhea (U.S. Department of the Navy, 1943)

STD prevention played a good role in this war between the U.S. Army and STDs. According to the 1944 accompanying medical reports, combat units at all levels conducted bimonthly STD prevention lectures or propaganda science film viewings on a battalion-by-battalion basis, and each subordinate company was also required to conduct monthly reproductive health care education, and a large number of STD-themed posters were everywhere in the barracks, in addition to the medical checkpoints set up.

Prophylaxis prevents V.D. (Billy Larkin, 1943)
Lightning can strike twice (U.S. Department of the Navy, 1944)
Don’t let him stick in your business (Jack Nolan, 1943)

Another important reason for the rapid spread of malaria within the U.S. military is the lack of attention from the U.S. military itself. Although each soldier was regularly given the preventive drug Adderall to combat malaria, most soldiers did not take the medication as required because of the side effects of yellowing skin associated with taking the drug regularly. It was only after symptoms such as fever and vomiting arose that these soldiers thought of medication to relieve them, but this was pointless to mend the situation. Worse, after the emergence of similar symptoms of malaria infection, most U.S. soldiers still held on to the psychology of luck not to go with the military hospital to receive treatment, so that ultimately delayed the valuable pre treatment time.

Don’t be a dummy (U.S. Department of the Army, 1944)

Since the second half of 1943, the U.S. Army began to gradually implement systematic health propaganda work, requiring soldiers to take preventive medicine regularly, while bathing regularly, changing clothes, and washing their various household items frequently; in addition, the medical personnel of each unit also began to act as temporary propagandists, popularizing the general knowledge of various common infectious diseases to soldiers, and hoping that soldiers would receive immediate medical examination once they became unwell. The medical personnel of each unit also began to act as temporary propagandists to educate soldiers about various common infectious diseases, and hope that soldiers will receive immediate examination as soon as they feel unwell so as not to miss the best time for treatment.

With the financial support of the federal government, some U.S. pharmaceutical research and development companies successively developed a number of fast-acting antimalarials in 1944, and fundamentally alleviated the dilemma of the military relying solely on quinine as a means of relieving malaria attacks. At the same time, similar propaganda efforts were launched in the United States as early as the second half of 1942 to complement the disease prevention propaganda efforts on the front lines. Although the domestic environment was not as harsh as that of the Pacific, preventing the spread of epidemic diseases remained a top priority for the U.S. Public Health Service and local disease prevention organizations.

Man-made malaria 6 mosquitoes in 10 (American Board of Physicians and Surgeons, 1945)
Don’t miss your X-Ray! (American Board of Physicians and Surgeons, 1945)
Don’t be your own doctor! If you’re sick, report sick (U.S. War Department, 1944)

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