Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Before, it was a tale of a singer. Today, it is going to be a tale of a cook.

Named Mary Mallon. A story of decades ago, 1910 ++..

Mary was an immigrant from Ireland, who worked as a servant- a cook for wealthy high class people in New York. Being an immigrant, they were given preoccupied ideas of social classes difference. Who is rich get it all & who is poor lose it all. More or less like the Darwin theory.

The story begins when Mary start working as a cook for a rich family during summer vacation (a temporary job). During her period of working, the rich family's daughters caught typhoid fever, which in a short time, is passed to her mother, the gardeners, and maids. They did not suspect anything at first, but as time passed, rumors started..

Mary was known to 'be there' when outbreaks of typhoid fever happens. Wherever she works, people around her would get sick. So the investigations started. Public health investigator did his job in finding the source of the infection by taking blood, stool and urine sample forcibly from Mary. (who appeared well, healthy..)

She refuses samples taken as she thought it was the government who were trying to kick her out of the country or framing her in a crime she did not commit. Involvements of doctors, public health investigators and even polices took place.

She was eventually diagnosed as a 'healthy carrier' of the disease ad was brought into quarantine hospital somewhere in an isolated island for 3 years! Without her consent and without her believing she actually is a carrier. She caused many deaths so government actions to quarantine her was the best action possible. She was stressed out, psychologically and physically during her 'lock-up' in the hospital. Interns calling her names, not looked out by the nurses.. she felt very much frustrated, upset and depressed that she wrote letters expressing her feelings.

She was given antibiotic treatment, but because she is a chronic carrier, which means the bacteria has lodge in her gall bladder, the antibiotic wasn't effective, bcoz it cannot oenetrate gall bladder to do its action.

her six paged letters during her stay in the hospital

She was released after 3 years with a promise never to work as a cook again. But it did not took her a long time to miss her old profession. She then changed her last name and resumed her work as a cook. And the cycle of typhoid started again. She was then being the 'most wanted and dangerous women in america'.

Recaptured, she then was quarantined for the rest of her life until her death.


Typhoid fever is an infectious disease caused by bacteria salmonella. It is transmitted through food contaminated by the organism which exits the body through feces and urine.


So imagine, those who were infected ACTUALLY ate the urine and feces transmitted by Mary when she prepared and cooked food for them! Euww.. Also, cockroaches and flies may carry the organism on their feet and contaminate the food you are eating.

Symptoms are such: fever, headache, weakness, constipation/ diarrhea, spleen enlargement. Unfortunate patients might develop gut perforation or gut bleeding.

It is cured by specific antibiotics.

Moral of the story: keep cleanliness of your food. Avoid eating outside food. Cook by yourself to ensure the safety of your families' health!

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