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Sat Jul 31, 2021, 01:54 PM

Typhoid Mary- Mary Mallon,*Asymptomatic Cook Who Infected Dozens of People In NYC, Early 20th Cent.



- Image of Mary Mallon (far left) in a hospital bed that published in the June 20, 1909 issue of The New York American.
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Typhoid Mary, the asymptomatic cook who infected patrons, CTV, May 19, 2020. - Ed.

TORONTO -- The novel coronavirus pandemic may remind us of another deadly infectious disease: typhoid fever. It has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and sickened millions more around the world – and it's almost impossible to talk about typhoid fever without discussing the woman most famously known for spreading it.

Her real name was Mary Mallon, but she is more commonly referred to as “Typhoid Mary,” the person most prominently known for infecting dozens of people with typhoid fever while she worked as a cook for wealthy families in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. At the time, medical knowledge and understanding of asymptomatic carriers of disease was essentially non-existent, which is part of what made Mallon’s story all the more intriguing to doctors and public health officials.

Her story was widely covered in the media, according to Katie Foss, a professor of journalism and media studies at Middle Tennessee State Univ. in the U.S. Foss, who studied Mallon for an upcoming historical book called “Constructing the Outbreak: Epidemics in Media & Collective Memory,” says most of the press Mallon got was negative and often one-sided. “She was never interviewed in the media, she was never quoted,” Foss told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview from Gatlinburg, Tenn. on May 14. “We talk about her, but we don’t really hear from her. We don’t give her agency,” Foss added.

WHO WAS MARY MALLON? To better understand the story behind ‘Typhoid Mary,’ it helps to understand who Mary Mallon was before she got her famous nickname. Mallon was born in Cookstown, County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, in 1869 & emigrated as a teenager to the U.S., where she was eventually hired as a cook in New York City to prepare meals for some of Manhattan’s wealthiest families. Mallon cooked for 7 families between 1900- 1907, unaware that she was a healthy carrier of typhoid fever. No one at the time, including Mallon, really understood that a person showing no signs or symptoms of typhoid, such as fever, cough, fatigue, or diarrhea, could still transmit the disease to others.
Her signature dish of peach ice cream, according to this BBC piece, has also been theorized by experts as the conduit through which Mallon spread the contagious disease...

More,
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/typhoid-mary-the-asymptomatic-cook-who-infected-patrons-1.4944890

- Mary Mallon, wiki, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Mallon
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- NIH, Mary Mallon (1869 -1938) and The History of Typhoid Fever

Mary Mallon was born in 1869 in Ireland and emigrated to the US in 1884. She had worked in a variety of domestic positions for wealthy families prior to settling into her career as a cook. As a healthy carrier of Salmonella typhi her nickname of “Typhoid Mary” had become synonymous with the spread of disease, as many were infected due to her denial of being ill. She was forced into quarantine on two separate occasions on North Brother Island for a total of 26 years and died alone without friends, having evidently found consolation in her religion to which she gave her faith and loyalty.

Long before the bacillus responsible for the disease was discovered in 1880, Karl Liebermeister had already assumed that the condition was due to a microorganism. He also tried, with his colleagues, to demonstrate that the spread of epidemic was related to drinking water contaminated by the excrement of patients with typhoid fever [1]. William Budd, a doctor in Bristol who was interested in cholera and in intestinal fevers, demonstrated in 1873, that typhoid fever could be transmitted by a specific toxin present in excrement and that the contamination of water by the feces of patients was responsible for that propagation...
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3959940/

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Reply Typhoid Mary- Mary Mallon,*Asymptomatic Cook Who Infected Dozens of People In NYC, Early 20th Cent. (Original post)
appalachiablue Jul 31 OP
stopdiggin Jul 31 #1
appalachiablue Jul 31 #2
stopdiggin Jul 31 #3
eppur_se_muova Jul 31 #4
yellowdogintexas Jul 31 #5
Dellie Aug 1 #6
canetoad Aug 1 #7
gopiscrap Aug 13 #8

Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Sat Jul 31, 2021, 02:02 PM

1. a sad story

about the only uplifting part of it is a very good piece of early forensic medicine - and the fact that the story was 'popularized' enough to sink into public knowledge - thereby gaining currency and (at least partial) acceptance.

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Response to stopdiggin (Reply #1)

Sat Jul 31, 2021, 02:14 PM

2. Agree, very sad yet it helped educate people,

the hard way. Mary Mallon also received more abuse because of her Irish heritage, immigrant background and of course being a woman and working as a domestic servant. Chef Anthony Bourdain wrote a book to illuminate some of the injustices and discrimination Mary Mallon faced, so I've read.

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Response to appalachiablue (Reply #2)

Sat Jul 31, 2021, 02:40 PM

3. yep. unfortunately

some of that 'message' that went out - and ultimately worked to the public good - was probably in the form of some very ugly yellow journalism. Sigh. We humans ....

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Sat Jul 31, 2021, 05:30 PM

4. Unemployment was not a livable option then. She kept working because she had to.

One more good thing to celebrate about social safety nets.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Sat Jul 31, 2021, 05:47 PM

5. check out the Typhoid segment on "This Podcast Will Kill You"

The Two Erins explore its history and treatment etc. This is a great podcast, very professional and interesting. They do a different disease/condition/interesting medical topic every week. They started with Spanish Flu; they have several very detailed segments on COVID

When we were kids, our doctor gave us Typhoid vaccine every 2 years because we were out in the country and had well water. In Kentucky, you never know how far upstream the sinkholes are and what fell down them. Even if you test the water regularly something can still get down there and mess up the water.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Sun Aug 1, 2021, 08:39 AM

6. Irish Peasants Knew About Asymptomatic Carriers


Typhoid Mary’s fate in America was infinity better then she would have met if she stayed in Ireland. What she was facing there was a hidden quick-lime grave.

Typhoid, Typhus, Cholera, and lesser lights were endemic in Ireland. The peasant communities were structured. to the best of their very limited ability, to flatten the curve.

And they knew about asymptomatic transmission.
They were well aware there was a category of people who appeared healthy but carried disease and death everywhere they went.And they dealt with these people like they dealt with rabid dogs.
All carriers could do was keep moving, change their story, their appearance, their names, keep a low profile. And , of course get out at the first sign of disease which is what a sensible person did anyway. Mary followed some of these rules but not all and not very well.
She may been deep in of denial even though the scientific world and her peasant past both both told her what was going on.
Or as the historian Denis Clark wrote, maybe she was helplessly repeating an original traumatic loss over and over again.
But it is not a case of an simple woman facing the germ theory.

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Response to Dellie (Reply #6)

Sun Aug 1, 2021, 11:04 PM

7. I'd be grateful

If you could post some corroborating evidence of Irish peasants' knowledge of asymptomatic disease transmission.

To my knowledge, two documented cases of (possibly accidental) historical proactive measures to contain disease were:

-The 'Plague' village of Eyam in Derbyshire who decided to isolate themselves during 1665/6.
-The Broad Street cholera outbreak - when the disease was for the first time tracked back to one water supply.

Of course there may be more cases than this. TIA.

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Response to Dellie (Reply #6)

Fri Aug 13, 2021, 01:58 AM

8. welcome to DU

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