Mary Mallon

Topics: Mary Mallon, Asymptomatic carrier, Typhoid fever Pages: 6 (2403 words) Published: April 24, 2012
Science advancements has helped us answer mysteries of the world and help cure diseases. Bacteriology is the study of bacteria helped scientists find the cause of source for diseases, explanations, and possibly cures for disease. In the early 1900's many people were getting sick from typhoid fever in the united states, this led to an investigation and virtually a whole new explanation of diseases spreading thru "healthy carriers." After reading Typhoid Mary by Judith Walzer Leavitt one has found that this is a story about an Irish immigrant that was a victim of circumstance and her struggle for her freedom. Mary Mallon was an Irish immigrant that came to America in 1884, by herself at the age of fifteen years old. Mary never had a college education to find a high-paying job such as a doctor or a lawyer, but she made a living by cooking for wealthy families in New York. (Leavitt, 14) She was the first person in the United States to be identified as a healthy carrier. (Leavitt, 7) Health officials concluded her to be a menace to society and had the power to isolate and lock her up away, how can one lock and imprisonment someone who has not committed any crime? Is the cost of Mary Mallon's freedom beneficial in protecting the public from contracting unwanted typhoid cases? (Leavitt,11) I will analyze and examine, George Soper's investigations, Mary Mallon's mindset throughout the book after she had been accused, health officials investigations, and other typhoid cases that were found during this time in my paper.

In the summer of 1906 an outbreak of typhoid fever caused six out of eleven people to be sick with the disease.(Leavitt, 14) George Soper was hired to investigate the source of the infection in order to protect the disease from further spreading.(Leavitt, 15) Soper was an engineer and had great expertise on sanitary engineering.(Leavitt, 15) He first began his investigation by seeing if the water or the milk was contaminated. He researched if the family had been in contact with anyone that had typhoid fever to provide some sort of explanation of why everyone was getting sick.(Leavitt, 15) Soper learned about a cook by the name of Mary Mallon, he suspected her as the source of the disease when he could not find any other answer.(Leavitt, 15) He investigated Mary Mallon's employment records, he found twenty-two possible cases of typhoid fever that could possibly be traced to Mary Mallon as the source of possibly infecting these people with the disease.(Leavitt,18) George Soper approached Mary Mallon the wrong way, which was the first mistake of Soper's that made his investigation more difficult.(Leavitt, 19) Soper just showed up to Mary Mallon's place of stay and started accusing her of spreading disease to many people through her cooking career.(Leavitt, 19) Mary Mallon has quickly became defensive because if you were to look at her she appeared to be a healthy woman.(Leavitt, 20) She claimed she has never been sick with Typhoid fever so how can she possibly spread the disease if she never was sick from it? Mary Mallon's hostile and rude reaction to Soper's accusations were her first mistakes in this case. (Leavitt, 100) Soper just wanted to help Mary not imprison her, and even offered her a book deal and a great deal of money through helping him in his investigations of being a healthy carrier.(Leavitt, 110) Soper found it impossible to reason with Miss Mallon, even though he had evidence showing her that she can be a possible explanation for the outbreaks, Mary Mallon chose not accept it.(Leavitt, 110) Mary Mallon was a victim of fate and struggle because she was working class and a immigrant.(Leavitt, 117) Society felt that most poor immigrants that come to America were "dirty" and unsanitary and the source of infection and spreading of diseases.(Leavitt, 118) Mary Mallon's reaction to Soper, and other health officials were against the norm during the time of the 1900's.(Leavitt, 124) Mary would act really...
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