Many will have heard of Typhoid Mary, but fewer will know her full story – or her real name. That was Mary Mallon, an Irish-born cook who worked for affluent families in the New York City area in the early years of the 20th century. She was employed by eight households, seven of whom contracted typhoid, a nasty bacterial infection that can be deadly. Whenever an outbreak began, she would usually leave without giving a forwarding address, not believing she could be spreading infection because she was never ill herself. The idea that people could carry a disease without displaying any symptoms was a novelty to the medical science of the era. So it took a lot of detective work and a long time before she was identified as what we might now call an asymptomatic super-spreader.
When she was finally tracked down in 1907, she was arrested as a threat to public health, forced into an ambulance by five policemen and sentenced to an enforced quarantine. Doctors discovered massive amounts of typhoid bacteria in her gall bladder. She rejected the suggestion that the infected organ should be removed, the one operation that might have cured her. It was a risky procedure and Mary could not be convinced that she was a carrier.
Read the original article at The Guardian