Memories of cholera in Pará (1855 and 1991): tragedies repeat them selves?

During the 1991 cholera epidemic in the state of Pará, there were a substantial number of victims. Although those stricken recovered quickly, they were reluctant to leave the hospital. Taking proportions into account, nineteenth-century living conditions were similar to the living conditions confronted by the sick receiving care at the Hospital Universitário João de Barros Barreto (HUJBB). In the twentieth century, apparently the illness was still attached to old structures and conjured up worries that are now unnecessary, since today's treatment is fast-working and effective. Stories of days past quickly surfaced, with terrifying images of the 1855 cholera epidemic. In addition to relying on documental sources, the study analyzed the memories of cholera patients, their relatives, and other actors. Findings allow for a comparison between the epidemics of yesterday and of today, in turn permitting the prediction that such tragedies will be repeated because the living conditions of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century poor remain the same.

epidemic; cholera; public policy; Brazil

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