Mary Mallon: Difference between revisions

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|accessdate=February 28, 2010|archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20110605105457/http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10D15FE3859117389DDAB0994D9415B888FF1D3
|archivedate=June 5, 2011
|url-status=dead|quote=Mary Mallon, the first carrier of typhoid bacilli identified in America and consequently known as Typhoid Mary, died yesterday in Riverside Hospital on North Brother Island.}}</ref> Because she persisted in working as a cook, by which she exposed others to the disease, she was twice forcibly [[quarantine]]d by authorities, and died after a total of nearly three decades in isolation.<ref>The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life, {{ISBN|0674357086}}</ref><ref>Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical, {{ISBN|160819518X}}</ref> Presumably, she was born with typhoid, because her mother was infected during pregnancy.{{sfn|Adler|Mara|2016|pp=137—145}}{{sfn|Walzer Leavitt|1996|p=14}}{{sfn|Elsevier|2013|p=189}}
 
==Biography==
 
===Early life===
Mary Mallon was born in 1869 in [[Cookstown]], [[County Tyrone]], in what is now [[Northern Ireland]]. At the age of 15, she migrated to the United States.{{sfn|Walzer Leavitt|1996|p=14}}{{sfn|Cliff|Smallman-Raynor|2013|p=86}} She lived with her aunt and uncle for a time and worked as a maid, but with the time worked up toeventually bebecame a [[Cook (profession)|cook]] for affluent families.{{sfn|Kenny|2014|p=187}}{{sfn|Adler|Mara|2016|p=137}}
 
In memories of her contemporaries, by 1907 she was in full bloom of her physical and mental health, a 5.6' tall blonde with athletic body and bright blue eyes.{{sfn|Adler|Mara|2016|p=141}}
 
===Career===
From 1900 to 1907, Mallon worked as a cook in the [[New York City]] area for eight families, seven of which gotcontracted infectedtyphoid.{{sfn|Elsevier|2013|с=56}}{{sfn|Walzer Leavitt|1996|p=16}} In 1900, she worked in [[Mamaroneck, New York]], where within two weeks of her employment, residents developed typhoid fever. In 1901, she moved to [[Manhattan]], where members of the family for whom she worked developed fevers and [[diarrhea]], and the laundress died. Mallon then went to work for a lawyer and left after seven of the eight people in that household became ill.<ref name="TheStraightDope">{{cite web|author1=Dex |author2=McCaff|url=http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1816/who-was-typhoid-mary |title=Who was Typhoid Mary?|website=The Straight Dope|date= August 14, 2000}}</ref>{{sfn|Adler|Mara|2016|pp=140—141}}
 
On the first ofIn June 1904, she was hired by a prosperous lawyer, Henry Gilsey. InWithin a week, the laundress was infected with typhoid, and soon 4four of the 7seven servants were ill. No members of Gilsey's family were infected, because they resided separately, and the servants lived in their own house. The investigator Dr. R. L. Wilson concluded that the laundress had caused the outbreak, howeverbut he failed to prove it. Immediately after the outbreak’soutbreak startbegan, Mallon left the and moved to Tuxedo Park.,{{sfn|Soper|1939|p=703}} Therewhere she was hired by George Kessler. Two weeks later, the laundress in his household was infected and taken to [[St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center]], where her case of typhoid becamewas the first forin a long time.{{sfn|Adler|Mara|2016|p=137}}
 
In August 1906, Mallon took a position in [[Oyster Bay (hamlet), New York|Oyster Bay]] on [[Long Island]] inwith the family of a wealthy New York banker, Charles Henry Warren. Mallon went along with the Warrens when they rented from Mrs. George Thompson a house in Oyster Bay for the summer of 1906. From August 27 to September 3, 6six of the 11 people in the family came down with typhoid fever. The disease at that time was "unusual" in Oyster Bay, according to three medical doctors who practiced there. The landlord, understanding that it would be impossible to lendrent a house with the reputation of typhoid danger, hired several independent experts to find the source of infection. In two weeks theyThey took water samples from all the pipes, faucets, water closetstoilets, evenand the cesspool, all turnedof outwhich to bewere negative onfor typhoid.{{sfn|Marineli|Tsoucalas|Karamanou|Androutsos|2013|pp=132—134}}{{sfn|Soper|1939|p=699}}<ref>{{Cite web|url=https://orauportal.fda.gov/courseware/FD202W100/SCORM_FD202_Module_3_Microbiology/Module_3_Dinner_With_Typhoid_Mary.pdf|title=Dinner With Typhoid Mary|website=FDA}}</ref>
 
=== Investigation ===
 
In late 1906, MaryMallon was hired by Walter Bowen, a wealthywhose family that residedlived on [[Park Avenue]]. Their maid got sick on January 23, 1907, and soon Charles Warren’s only daughter got typhoid and died. This case helped to findidentify andMallon identifyas Mary.the Ansource investigatorof the infections. [[George Soper]], an investigator hired by Charles Warren after the outbreak in Oyster Bay, had finally traced her. At this point, Soper had been trying to find,determine howthe therecause could beof typhoid outbreaks in well-to-do families., By then,when it was known that typhoidthe disease typically struck in unsanitary environments. He discovered that a female Irish cook, who fit the physical description he washad been given, was involved in all of the outbreaks. He was unable to locate her because she generally left after an outbreak began, without giving a forwarding address. Soper then learned of an active outbreak in a penthouse on [[Park Avenue]] and discovered Mallon was the cook. Two of the household's servants were hospitalized, and the daughter of the family died of typhoid.<ref name="TheStraightDope" />
 
InSoper first met Mallon in the kitchen of the Bowens he first met her and accused forher of spreading the disease. Though Soper himself recollected his behaviourbehavior as '"as diplomatic as possible'", he infuriated Mallon and she even threatened him with thea carving fork.<ref name="TheStraightDope" /><ref>{{cite journal|last = Soper|first = George A.|title = The work of a chronic typhoid germ distributor|journal = [[J Am Med Assoc]]|volume = 48|issue = 24|pages = 2019–22|date = June 15, 1907|doi=10.1001/jama.1907.25220500025002d|url = https://zenodo.org/record/1423366}}</ref> When Mallon refused to give samples, heSoper decided to compile a five-year history of Mallon'sher employment. SoperHe found that of the eight families that had hired Mallon as a cook, members of seven claimed to have contracted typhoid fever.<ref>{{cite book|last=Satin|first=Morton|title=Death in the Pot|year=2007|publisher=Prometheus Books|location=New York|page=169}}</ref> Then Soper found out the place where Mallon's lover lived and arranged a new meeting there. He took Dr. Raymond Hoobler in an attempt to convince Mary to give them samples of urine and stool for analysesanalysis. Again Mallon again refused to cooperate, she was surebelieving that typhoid was everywhere and that the outbreaks had happened because of contaminated food and water. At that time, the concept of healthy carriers was unknown even to healthcare workers.{{sfn|Adler|Mara|2016|p=137}}{{sfn|Soper|1939|pp=704-705}}
 
Soper published thehis resultsfindings on June 15, 1907, in the [[JAMA (journal)|''Journal of the American Medical Association'']]. He believed Mallon might have been the source of the outbreak.<ref name=Newsday>{{cite news|author=Ochs, Ridgely|date=2007|title=Dinner with Typhoid Mary|newspaper=[[Newsday]]}}</ref> He wrote:
 
<blockquote>It was found that the family changed cooks on August 4. This was about three weeks before the typhoid epidemic broke out. The new cook, Mallon, remained in the family only a short time and left about three weeks after the outbreak occurred. Mallon was described as an Irish woman about 40 years of age, tall, heavy, single. She seemed to be in perfect health.<ref>{{Cite web|url=https://orauportal.fda.gov/courseware/FD202W100/SCORM_FD202_Module_3_Microbiology/Module_3_Dinner_With_Typhoid_Mary.pdf|title=Dinner With Typhoid Mary|website=FDA}}</ref></blockquote>
=== First quarantine (1907–1910) ===
[[Image:Mary Mallon in hospital.jpg|thumb|Mary Mallon (foreground) in a hospital bed]]
Soper notified the New York City Health Department, theirwhose investigators also realized that sheMallon was a typhoid carrier. Under sections 1169 and 1170 of the [[New York City Charter|Greater New York Charter]], MaryMallon was arrested as a public health threat. The womanShe was forced into an ambulance by five policemen and Dr. [[Sara Josephine Baker|Josephine Baker]], who at some point had to sit on the patientMallon to restrain her.{{sfn|Soper|1939|pp=704-705}} Mallon was transported to the [[Willard Parker Hospital]], where she was restrained to bed and forced to give analysessamples. For four days, she wasn't even allowed to get up and use the bathroom on her own.{{sfn|Alexander|2004}} The massive amounts of typhoid bacteria that were discovered in her stool samples indicated that the infection centrecenter was in her [[gallbladder]]. Under questioning, Mallon admitted that she almost never washed her hands. This was not unusual at the time; the [[germ theory of disease]] still was not fully accepted.<ref name=TheStraightDope/>{{sfn|Adler|Mara|2016|p=143}}
 
On March 19, 1907, MaryMallon was sentenced to quarantine on [[North and South Brother Islands (New York City)|North Brother Island]]. While quarantined, she gave stool and urine samples three times per week. Authorities suggested removing her gallbladder, but she refused asbecause she did not believe she carried the disease. SheAt wasthe also unwilling to cease working as a cook. Though frequently these refusals are considered to come from her 'ill temper'time, actually they had very prosaic reasons. As a cook Mary earned more money, than with any other employment, having no place of her own and no 'permanent situation' she always was on the verge of poverty. The gallbladder removal operation, offered by the authorities, was at the time dangerous, and people had died from itthe procedure.<ref>{{Cite journal|last=Brooks|first=J|date=March 15, 1996|title=The sad and tragic life of Typhoid Mary|journal=CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal|volume=154|issue=6|pages=915–916|issn=0820-3946|pmc=1487781|pmid=8634973}}</ref> Mallon was also unwilling to stop working as a cook, a job that earned her more money than any other. Having no home of her own, she was always on the verge of poverty.
 
After Soper's publication in the ''Journal of the American Medical Association'', Mallon attracted lots ofextensive media attention and received the humiliating nickname "Typhoid Mary".<ref name=letter>{{cite web
|language = en
|url = https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/typhoid/letter.html
|publisher = NOVA PBS
|accessdate = May 14, 2020
}}</ref> Later, in a textbook that defined typhoid fever, she again was called "Typhoid Mary"<ref>{{cite book|last=Satin|first=Morton|title=Death in the Pot|year=2007|publisher=[[Prometheus Books]]|location=New York|page=171}}</ref> During the first quarantine, Soper visited Mallon. He told her he would write a book and give her part of the royalties.{{sfn|Soper|1939|p=709}} She angrily rejected his proposal and locked herself in the bathroom until he left.<ref>{{Cite episode |title=The Most Dangerous Woman In America|episodelink= |url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JPCZOb7z2w|accessdate=August 31, 2014|series=Nova|serieslink=Nova (American TV series)|first= |last= |network=[[PBS]]|station= |city= |date=October 12, 2004|began=|ended=|season= |seriesno= |number=597 |minutes=|time=28:42-29:52|transcript= |transcripturl= |quote= |language=English}}</ref> Mary hated the insulting nickname, in a letter to her advocate she wrote
 
Soper visited Mallon in quarantine, telling her he would write a book and give her part of the royalties.{{sfn|Soper|1939|p=709}} She angrily rejected his proposal and locked herself in the bathroom until he left.<ref>{{Cite episode |title=The Most Dangerous Woman In America|episodelink= |url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JPCZOb7z2w|accessdate=August 31, 2014|series=Nova|serieslink=Nova (American TV series)|first= |last= |network=[[PBS]]|station= |city= |date=October 12, 2004|began=|ended=|season= |seriesno= |number=597 |minutes=|time=28:42-29:52|transcript= |transcripturl= |quote= |language=English}}</ref> She hated the nickname and wrote in a letter to her lawyer:
<blockquote>I wonder how the said Dr. William H. Park would like to be insulted and put in the Journal and call him or his wife Typhoid William Park.<ref name=letter/></blockquote>
 
Not all medicsmedical experts supported the decision to forcibly quarantine MalloneMallon. For example, [[Milton J. Rosenau]] and [[Charles V. Chapin]] both argued that she just had to be taught to carefully treatetreat her condition and insureensure that she would not transmit the typhoid to others. Both considered isolation to be an unnecessary, way toooverly strict punishment.{{sfn|Walzer Leavitt|Numbers|1997|p=560}} The womanMallon suffered from a nervous breakdown after her arrest and forcible transportation to the hospital. In 1909, Maryshe tried to sue the New York Health DepartmentsDepartment, thoughbut her complaint was denied and the case closed by the [[New York Supreme Court]].<ref>{{cite web
|url = https://www.loc.gov/rr/news/topics/typhoid.html
|title = Topics in Chronicling America - Typhoid Mary
|date = October 9, 2014
|accessdate = May 11, 2020
}}</ref> In a letter to her lawyer, she complained that she was treated like a '"guinea pig'". She was obliged to give samples for analysesanalysis three times a week, but for six monthmonths theywas didn'tnot allow herallowed to visit an eye doctor, even though her lideyelid was paralyzed and she had to bandage it at nightsnight. Her medical treatment was hectic: sheShe was given [[urotropin]] in 3three-month courses for a year, threatening to ruindestroy her [[kidney]]s, then changed to brewers [[yeast]], replaced withand [[wikt:hexamethylenamin|hexamethylenamin]] in increasing doses.{{sfn|Walzer Leavitt|Numbers|1997|p=561}}<ref name=letter/>{{sfn|Adler|Mara|2016|pp=143—145}} She could not fully trust the diagnosis becausewas first shetold was toldthat she had typhoid in her intestinal tract, then in theher bowel's muscles, then in theher gallbladder.<ref name=letter/>
 
Mallon herself never believed that she was a carrier. With the help of hera friend, Maryshe sent several samples to an independent New York laboratory. All came back negative tofor typhoid.{{sfn|Walzer Leavitt|Numbers|1997|p=560}} On the North Brother Island, almost a quarter of her analyses, taken from March 1907 up tothrough June 1909, were also negative.{{sfn|Alexander|2004}} After 2 years and 11 months of MaryMallon's quarantine, Eugene H. Porter, the [[New York State Commissioner of Health]], decided that disease carriers should no longer be kept in isolation and that Mallon could be freed if she agreed to stop working as a cook and take reasonable steps to preventavoid transmitting typhoid to others. On February 19, 1910, Mallon agreed thatsaid she was "prepared to change her occupation (that of a cook), and would give assurance by [[affidavit]] that she would upon her release take such hygienic precautions as would protect those with whom she came in contact, from infection."{{sfn|Soper|1939|pp=708—710}} She was released from [[quarantine]] and returned to the mainland.{{sfn|Adler|Mara|2016|pp=143—145}}<ref name="isbe"/>{{sfn|Marion Daily Mirror|1910|p=2}}
 
===Release and second quarantine (1915–1938)===
[[File:Mallon-Mary 01.jpg|thumb|Poster depiction of "Typhoid Mary"]]
Upon her release, Mallon was given a job as a laundress, which paid less than cooking — only 20 dollars per month instead of 50. At some point she wounded her arm, the wound became infected, and the womanshe could not work at all for six months.<ref name=pbs/> After several unsuccessful years, she started cooking again. She used fake surnames like Breshof or Brown and took jobs as a cook against the explicit instructions of health authorities. No agencies that hired the servants for upscale families would offer her employment, so for the next five years she moved to the mass sector. She worked in a number of kitchens in restaurants, hotels, evenand spa-centres; almostcenters. Almost wherever she worked, there were outbreaks of typhoid.{{sfn|Soper|1939|pp=708—710}} However, she changed jobs frequently, and Soper was unable to find her.<ref name=TheStraightDope/>
 
In 1915, Mallon started working at [[Sloane Hospital for Women]] in New York City. Soon twenty-five25 people were infected, and two died. The head obstetrician, Dr. Edward B. Cragin, called Soper himself and asked him to help in the investigation. Soper identified Mallon from the servants' verbal descriptions and also by her handwriting.{{sfn|Soper|1939|pp=708—710}}<ref name=pbs/>
 
SheMallon again fled, but the police were able to find and arrest her when she took food to a friend on Long Island.<ref name=TheStraightDope/><ref name="isbe">{{cite web
|url=http://www.isbe.net/career/pdf/fcs_guide.pdf
| title=Food Science Curriculum
| url-status=dead | archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20101218233409/http://isbe.net/career/pdf/fcs_guide.pdf
| archivedate=December 18, 2010
| df=mdy-all }}</ref> After the arrest, Mallon was returned to quarantine on North Brother Island on March 27, 1915.<ref name="isbe"/><ref name=pbs>{{cite web
|author = Leavitt, Judith
|url = https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/typhoid-mary-villain-or-victim/
}}</ref>
 
Mallon remained in quarantine for the rest of her life, a period of just over 23 years. In 1925, Dr. Alexandra Plavska came to the island for internship. She organized a laboratory on the second floor of the chapel and offered Mallon the technician's job. Mary not onlyMallon washed bottles, she did recordings, and prepared glasses for pathologists.{{sfn|Walzer Leavitt|1996|p=195}}{{sfn|Campbell Bartoletti|2015|p=141}}
 
== Death ==
[[File:Typhoid carrier polluting food - a poster.jpg|thumb|250px|A historical poster warning against acting like Typhoid Mary]]
Mallon spent the rest of her life in quarantine at the Riverside Hospital on North Brother Island. Six years before her death, she had a [[stroke]]. She had never completely recovered, and half of her body remained paralyzed.{{sfn|Campbell Bartoletti|2015|p=143}} On November 11, 1938, she died of [[pneumonia]] at age 69.<ref name=NYT/> Mallon's body was cremated, and her ashes were buried at [[Saint Raymond's Cemetery]] in the Bronx.<ref>{{cite book|last=Satin|first=Morton|title=Death in the Pot: The Impact of Food Poisoning on History|publisher=Prometheus Books|isbn=978-1-615-92224-6|page=174|date=December 2, 2009}}</ref> Only 9nine people visitedattended the funeral ceremony.<ref>{{cite web
|language = en
|url = https://www.nytimes.com/1938/11/12/archives/typhoid-mary-dies-of-a-stroke-at-68-carrier-of-disease-blamed-for.html?searchResultPosition=12
}}</ref>
 
Some sources claim that there were a post-mortem, found evidence of live typhoid bacteria in herMallon's gallbladder.{{sfn|Marineli|Tsoucalas|Karamanou|Androutsos|2013|pp=132—134}}<ref name=TheStraightDope/> [[George Soper]] wrote, however, "Therethat there was no [[autopsy]]", a claim cited by other researchers to assert a conspiracy to calm public opinion after her death.{{sfn|Soper|1939|p=712}}{{sfn|Marineli|Tsoucalas|Karamanou|Androutsos|2013|pp=132—134}}
 
== Legacy ==
Among the infections Mallon caused, atAt least three deaths were attributed to her;Mallon, however,but because of her use of aliases and refusal to cooperate, the exact number is not known. Some have estimated that she may have caused 50 fatalities.<ref name=TheStraightDope/>
 
Other healthy typhoid carriers identified in the first quarter of the 20th century include Tony Labella, an Italian immigrant, presumed to have caused over 100 cases (with five deaths); an [[Adirondack Mountains|Adirondack]] guide dubbed "Typhoid John", presumed to have infected 36 people (with two deaths); and Alphonse Cotils, a restaurateur and bakery owner.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/bugl/epidemiology.htm |title=Epidemiology |date=March 2001 |archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20160303230003/http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/bugl/epidemiology.htm |archivedate=March 3, 2016 }}</ref>
Today, the phrase "Typhoid Mary" is a colloquial term for anyone who, knowingly or not, spreads disease or some other undesirable thing.<ref>{{cite web|url=https://dictionary.reference.com/browse/typhoid%20mary?s=t |title=Dictionary Reference Website: Typhoid Mary |publisher=Dictionary.reference.com |date= |accessdate=March 23, 2020}}</ref>
 
HerMallon's urban legend status in New York inspired the name of the rap group [[Hail Mary Mallon]].<ref>{{Cite web|title=Aesop Rock Launches New Group Hail Mary Mallon, Tours and Works With Kimya Dawson|url=https://pitchfork.com/news/42305-aesop-rock-launches-new-group-hail-mary-mallon-tours-and-works-with-kimya-dawson/|last=Breihan|first=Tom|website=Pitchfork|language=en|access-date=2020-05-24}}</ref>
 
== References ==