The Sad Tale of Typhoid Mary


Typhoid Mary, a woman called Mary Mallon. Just after the beginning of the 20th century she was identified as the source of several typhoid fever outbreaks in New York City after considerable investigation by Doctor George Soper. She was treated but remained a carrier because the bacterium Salmonella typhi had infected her Gall Bladder where it was safe from the medicines of the time. Some would pass into her intestines and thus out with her faeces, minute amounts of faecal contamination were all that was required to start a new outbreak of the disease.

She was told that she could not work as a cook anymore because she would inevitably give other people typhoid, potentially killing them. She refused to believe the doctors however, and refused to undergo the operation to remove her gall Bladder which would have rendered her harmless. The only thing the health authorities could do to safeguard the people of New York City was to have her arrested and locked up.

Three years later she was released under the condition that she would not work in the catering industry and that she would report to the health department every 3 months. She immediately disappeared, changed her name and started working as a cook again, she caused numerous outbreaks of typhoid fever and an immense amount of suffering before she was finally tracked down and recaptured 5 years later, she was then kept in prison for the rest of her life.







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