Udayavni Special

Punjab Police is using the tale of ‘Typhoid Mary’ to battle Covid-19:Who is she and what is her story?


Team Udayavani, Aug 15, 2020, 9:39 AM IST

Amid Covid-19, Punjab Police is briefing its mess staff about an Irish woman Mary Mallon, who infected around 53 persons with typhoid fever

According to Indian Express, Punjab Police has directed officials to give the example of Typhoid Mary to cooks and other staff working in every mess.

Mary Mallon was born on September 23, 1869, in Cookstown, a small village in the north of Ireland. Mallon’s hometown in County Tyrone was among one of Ireland’s poorest areas.

According to Discover, in 1906, wealthy Warren family was hit by typhoid. The infection was usually spread through food or water contaminated by salmonella, so it was largely associated with poor, inner-city areas, where sanitation was overlooked.

The family hired an investigator named George Soper. During investigation Soper’s attention was drawn to the 37-year-old Irish cook, Mary Mallon, who had since left the household. He found that of the last eight families that had hired Mallon as a cook  and consumed her most popular and salmonella-friendly dish, peaches with ice cream had contracted typhoid fever.

After testing positive for typhoid bacteria in 1907, she was forcibly moved to a quarantine facility on North Brother Island. In 1910, she was released but then despite promising the authorities that she won’t opt for any cooking jobs, she went and worked in several households. Although she felt fine the bacteria was still active which was spreading while she cooked meal for others.

She was advised to regularly wash hands and maintain hygiene but  Mary failed to understand the link between the disease and handwashing.

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