Sailing the British Empire : The Voyages of The Clarence, 1858-73

Legislative measures against cholera

To prevent the outbreak of cholera onto land, there was also legislation in place to make sure that affected ships were quarantined, and the passengers not allowed to disembark for a period of upto 30 days. Such ships would have to raise a yellow flag, three miles off the coast (in the case of the Madras Presidency) to alert port authorities of the outbreak. By legislation, the ships were also required to discharge any waste water away from the port.

However, this legislation was sometimes ignored, especially when it went against mercantile interests. For instance, even though the SS Assyria had a cholera outbreak, the company that commissioned the ship broke maritime law in order to collect cargo from a port. Abiding by the law, the company would have lost its cargo, and thus profits. For these reasons, it was also difficult for doctors and sanitarians to press the government to develop cures, as a non interventionist policy favored its commercial, financial and political interests.

Similarly, rules were passed on how the incidence of cholera could be reduced. For instance, in one such memorandum, it is specified that the 'discharges from the stomach and bowels' must be promptly covered with ashes or earth and then buried as far away from water sources as possible. This in particular is a very important, considering that cholera is mainly transmitted througg food or water contaminated by a victim's faeces.


Sarup, Leela Gujadhur. "Volume 6." Colonial Emigration, 19th-20th Centuries: Proceedings. Kolkata: Aldrich International, 2009 N. p. Print.
The Madras Plague Regulations and Rules. Madras: Printed by the Superintendent, Government, 1898. Print.
Townsend, S. C., and S. C. Townsend. Memorandum on the Precautions to Be Taken against Cholera. Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified, 1869. Print.

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