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Scientists solve mystery of 'Typhoid Mary'

Posted on Sunday, 18 August, 2013 | Comment icon 14 comments


Image credit: NY Office of Records

 
In the early 1900s, Mary Mallon infected 51 people with typhoid despite not succumbing to it herself.

Known as Typhoid Mary, the exact nature of Mallon's condition has perplexed scientists due to the fact that she'd managed to infect so many people without showing any symptoms of the disease herself. Now researchers believe they have got to the bottom of the mystery in a new study that has revealed how the salmonella bacteria can hide in immune cells and "hack" the person's metabolism without them falling ill.

"To all outward appearances, she was perfectly healthy," said study co-author Dr. Denise Monack. Despite several attempts to evade the authorities, Mary eventually ended up being quarantined for a total of almost 30 years until her death in 1938.

"How exactly was the Irish immigrant known as Typhoid Mary able to infect about 50 people in New York City in the early 1900s without succumbing to the illness herself? Scientists say they are now close to cracking the case."

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 Source: Huffington Post


  Discuss: View comments (14)

   


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by DieChecker on 18 August, 2013, 19:24
Very interesting. She was locked up for 30 years? Wow! I wonder how many of those 51 died? Edit: Three... Three died. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoid_Mary
Comment icon #6 Posted by d e v i c e on 18 August, 2013, 22:47
She just wouldn't step up her personal hygiene habits or change her occupation. Okay, she tried a laundry job, but shot straight back to cooking [wiki]. Criminal negligence, really. She knew people could die because of her. But I will say, it's unfortunate she became a typhoid carrier in the first place.
Comment icon #7 Posted by EtherialNight on 18 August, 2013, 23:18
I agree d e v i c e, it's negligent certainly. However the incarceration for 30 years is quite horrendous.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Kowalski on 18 August, 2013, 23:47
She just wouldn't step up her personal hygiene habits or change her occupation. Okay, she tried a laundry job, but shot straight back to cooking [wiki]. Criminal negligence, really. She knew people could die because of her. But I will say, it's unfortunate she became a typhoid carrier in the first place. You might want to read this: Link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/typhoid-mary-villain-or-victim.html To be sure, Mary Mallon was not entirely blameless when she knowingly returned to cooking in 1915, but the blame must be more broadly shared. Much of what Mallon did can be explained by eve... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by d e v i c e on 19 August, 2013, 2:15
I agree d e v i c e, it's negligent certainly. However the incarceration for 30 years is quite horrendous. Boo-hoo. Dying of typhoid is even worse.
Comment icon #10 Posted by d e v i c e on 19 August, 2013, 2:21
You might want to read this: Link: http://www.pbs.org/w...-or-victim.html . Already weighed it all up. She didn't try hard enough and people got sick and died.
Comment icon #11 Posted by coolguy on 19 August, 2013, 4:22
They sent her to jail called north brother island in New York. The place is cool its a banded now. Only old buildings remain I bet its haunted.then when she got out of jail she started cooking and people where geting sick and it was her she changed her name lol
Comment icon #12 Posted by hannah-s on 20 August, 2013, 11:12
cooking was the only thing she knew, it's not easy to change your life like that. and personal hygiene wasn't that hot back then either
Comment icon #13 Posted by Child of Bast on 20 August, 2013, 14:12
Okay so she was p***ed because the government didn't place her in other jobs that would make as much money or give her the same social opportunities as being a cook did. So she decided she knew better than doctors and because their explanation of what she was doing (despite not being ill herself) to others didn't resonate with her - didn't bring forth any emotion - she went right back to doing what she wasn't supposed to. Yep. Gotta admire a selfish woman like Typhoid Mary.
Comment icon #14 Posted by brlesq1 on 1 September, 2013, 3:28
Growing up, I remember there was a woman who worked at a local McDonald's who was accused of being a typhoid carrier (she wasn't). But the damage had been done--only McDonald's I ever saw that closed. As for Typhoid Mary, knowing that she could infect people by doing her job but doing it anyway is not negligence in my eyes, it's criminal. Think of her 30 years as a jail sentence for murder for those three people who died.


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