The Butantã Institute is a center for the study and development of snakebite serum. Founded by Dr. Vital Brazil in 1888, the institute was established not only to prevent deaths by snakebite, but also to find a vaccine for bubonic plague. In the early twenty-first century Butantã functions as a distributor of antivenom throughout Brazil and is also a research and production center for a variety of vaccines for diseases such as diphtheria, rabies, and tetanus. Among several biotechnological projects in the 1980s, the institute founded a blood bank. The institute is attached to Butantã Snake Farm, the largest in Latin America. Along with the farm and the institute is a museum that houses poisonous snakes and spiders. The museum, which is a popular tourist attraction, has displays that explain the functions of the institute and describe the correct treatment for snakebite. Butantã is located in Pinheiros, a suburb of São Paulo, on the grounds of the Cidade Universitária, under the control of the Ministry of Health. The university itself was built on the former Fazenda Butantã (Butantã Farm).
See alsoMedicine: The Modern Era .
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Sheila L. Hooker