27.03.

1915: Typhoid Mary: The Woman who was Quarantined for Life

1915: Typhoid Mary: The Woman who was Quarantined for Life
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 27 March 1915
  • Mary Mallon spent more than 23 years of her life in quarantine, and wasn't allowed out before her death.

On this day American Mary Mallon was placed in quarantine for life. She was, in fact, the first person in the U.S. who was found to carry dangerous disease typhoid, even though she looked healthy. The so-called asymptomatic carriers of the infection are persons who do not themselves suffer from the disease, but transfer its pathogen to others. That is possible with typhoid and poses a great threat because an apparently healthy person can infect a large number of people.

To make matters worse, Mary Mallon once worked as a cook, which is a very convenient way of transmitting typhoid germs. It is assumed that, while she was a cook, she infected 51 people, three of whom died, but the number could be much higher. Mary Mallon was placed in quarantine on this day on North Brother Island. The island is located in the middle of East River in New York, not far from the Bronx County.

Mary lived in quarantine for more than 23 years of her life. She died at the age of 69 – not from typhoid, but from pneumonia. During her stay in quarantine she became a kind of “celebrity”, and was even visited by journalists (she was given the nickname “Typhoid Mary”). However, reporters were forbidden to accept even a glass of water from her.

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