We address the changes in Brazilian maritime prophylaxis by studying two cases of immigrant ships arriving at the port of Rio de Janeiro with epidemics onboard. The objective is to understand the etiology, means of prevention and methods used to combat the three diseases subject to international port regulations: yellow fever, bubonic plague and cholera. Until the late nineteenth century, quarantines were one of the main disease prevention practices. In the early twentieth century, microbiology and the concept of vectors in ports sanitation services emerged. Quarantines, which were already being criticized as antiquated and ineffective, were limited to a few cases, and new hygiene methods and technologies began to be applied in port sanitary defense.
immigration; ports; public health; history; Brazil