15 Jun: Don’t Eat The Ice Cream

Typhoid Mary – real name Mary Mallon – was the first ever asymptomatic carrier of typhoid to be identified. A cook for wealthy New York families, her name was published on 15th June, 1907, when sanitation engineer George Soper exposed her as the source of numerous outbreaks of the disease across the City.

Of particular concern was Mallon’s habit of preparing fresh peach ice cream for her clients on a Sunday. “No better way could be found for a cook to cleanse her hands of microbes and infect a family,” Soper concluded.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly ask if Mallon was treated unfairly by the authorities due to her class and circumstances; explain how she came to be quarantined – twice – on North Brother Island; and question how she possibly found herself working back in kitchens, preparing food, even after her reputation as a carrier of typhoid had been well publicised… 

Further Reading:

• ‘THE WORK OF A CHRONIC TYPHOID GERM DISTRIBUTOR’ (George A. Soper, Ph.D, 1907): https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/463876

• ‘Typhoid Mary, Who Spread Typhoid in Early 1900s’ (ThoughtCo, 2019): https://www.thoughtco.com/typhoid-mary-1779179

• ‘What Exactly Is Typhoid Fever?’ (Seeker, 2020):