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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Typhoid Mary


On this day in 1915, Mary Mallon, known as Typhoid Mary, was put into quarantine. Mary worked as a cook in various wealthy households around New York City. Every household she worked in seemed to suffer an outbreak of typhoid fever. A sanitation engineer named George Soper noticed this strange pattern of outbreaks among the wealthy, and eventually realized they had all hired the same cook. When he tracked her down, and questioned her, she didn’t take it well. She swore at him, and threatened him with a meat cleaver when he asked her to provide a stool sample. He finally called in the police and had her arrested. They took urine and stool samples by force, and discovered that she was a healthy carrier of typhoid. They released her on the condition that she would give up working as a cook, but once she was free, she changed her name and went back to cooking. Five years later, they finally tracked her down again, and she was put in quarantine for the rest of her life. She died of pneumonia in 1938.

North Brother Island where Mary was held in isolated quarantine for 26 years.

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