Who was Typhoid Mary? What is Salmonella Typhi? Is Typhoid Fever Fatal?

Who was Typhoid Mary? What is Salmonella Typhi? Is Typhoid Fever Fatal?

Mary Mallon was an Irish cook who is often blamed for a multitude of deaths. She was feared and vilified, accused of consciously spreading typhoid fever. But contrary to legend, The feisty immigrant who earned the Typhoid Mary moniker likely infected less than 50 people, only three of whom died.

Typhoid fever is rarely seen today in industrialized countries because of improvements in sanitation. The bacteria that cause it are carried in the bloodstream and intestinal tract, and they are deposited in food and water by people who are infected. Typhoid is contracted by eating or drinking something handled by a carrier who is not meticulously clean or from drinking contaminated water.

Mary was a healthy carrier; in other words, she had no symptoms herself. Which means she unwittingly made her victims sick. Her condition was discovered in 1907 when a New York Public Health official linked her to an outbreak of typhoid in a family that had hired her as a cook. But Mary refused to believe that she was the cause. When a civil engineer experienced in typhoid outbreaks went to her workplace to ask for blood, stool, and urine samples, she ran him off with a carving Fork!

What became of her? Mary was eventually institutionalized and held in isolation to prevent her from spreading the disease further. She was freed 3 years later, after promising not to work as a cook again, a promise she didn’t keep. A typhoid outbreak at Sloane Maternity Hospital in Manhattan 5 years after her release was traced to a cook named Mrs. Brown, who turned out to be Mary using a pseudonym. This time, public outrage forced authorities to send Mary away for good. She lived the last 23 years of her life in the isolated community of North Brother Island. Mary Mallon died on November 11th, 1938, not from typhoid but from complications brought on by a stroke.

To this day, people argue about whether it was unjust for governement authorities to imprison Mary. Did she commit a crime? What do you think could have been done differently or better? Let’s discuss this in the comments section below. Don’t forget to subscribe and like the video.

typhoid mary imprisoned


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