Spoof rabies poster in government publication goes viral

An illustration from an in-house government publication went 'viral' this weekend after it included a spoof poster advocating shooting children infected with rabies.

The spoof poster advocating a shoot-to-kill policy for children with rabies
The spoof poster advocating a shoot-to-kill policy for children with rabies

The latest edition of ‘Civil Service Quarterly’ contained a feature on the history of government communications.

The accompanying illustration showed a range of campaign posters, including safety campaigns, while also mistakenly including a poster created on behalf of ‘Scarfolk Council’, a fictional Twitter account that parodies a town in the north east where life "did not progress beyond 1979".

The poster exhorts people to take extreme action if they even suspect their child may have contracted rabies. 

Scarfolk Council’s Twitter account was quick to pick up on the mistake as it began to go viral, spreading rapidly - or perhaps rabidly - across the internet.  

As the spoof poster gained traction and public engagement, some people even contacted the parody account to say the policy was worthwhile.

Richard Littler, a writer and designer who invented the dystopian parody account, told Sky News he had no idea how his poster came to be included in the publication.

The Cabinet Office admitted that including the poster had been a mistake and it was eventually removed from an online version of the feature, although it remains in what may become a valuable print edition of Civil Service Quarterly.

A Cabinet spokeswoman said: "This image is a parody of 1970s public information campaigns and was mistakenly used in a publication for illustrative purposes."

However, the admission did not stop the fictional mayor of Scarfolk demanding the government desist from borrowing its policy.


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