One of the easiest way to contract typhoid is through the food we eat. That is why the most important factor to consider when hiring a cook is their personal hygiene and if possible their criminal or mental state. The last problem you want to have from a cook for them to be delusional or a homicidal maniac. This profile fits that of Irish cook and first asymptomatic carrier of typhoid in the United States, Mary Mallon. Mary Mallon was presumed to have infected at least 51 people, three of whom died in the course of her carrier as a cook. Interestingly she worked more for affluent families when she started in New York City. In some cases seven out of a household of eight could suddenly fall ill. Mallon was described as an Irish woman about 40 years of age, tall, heavy, single. She seemed to be in perfect health, so no one would have suspected her of these acts. Based on her track record of intentionally infecting her victims through her feaces, she was isolated three times by the public health authorities before she died in 1938. After investigations from the families that Mallon worked with, she admitted she did not understand the purpose of hand-washing because she did not pose a risk.In prison, she was forced to give stool and urine samples. Authorities suggested removing her gallbladder because they believed typhoid bacteria resided there. However, she refused as she did not believe she carried the disease. She was also unwilling to cease working as a cook. The New York City Health Inspector determined she was a carrier. Under sections 1169 and 1170 of the Greater New York Charter, Mallon was held in isolation for three years at a clinic located on North Brother Island. Eventually, Eugene H. Porter, the New York State Commissioner of Health, decided that disease carriers should no longer be kept in isolation and that Mallon could be freed if she agreed to stop working as a cook and take reasonable steps to prevent transmitting typhoid to others.
On February 19, 1910, Mallon agreed that she was “prepared to change her occupation (that of a cook), and would give assurance by affidavit that she would upon her release take such hygienic precautions as would protect those with whom she came in contact, from infection.” She was released from quarantine and returned to the mainland.Mallon spent the rest of her life in quarantine at the Riverside Hospital. Six years before her death, she was paralyzed by a stroke. On November 11, 1938, she died of pneumonia at age 69.A post-mortem found evidence of live typhoid bacteria in her gallbladder.Other researchers have cited George Soper who wrote, “There was no autopsy” to assert a conspiracy to calm public opinion after her death. Mallon’s body was cremated, and her ashes were buried at Saint Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx.Today, “Typhoid Mary” is a colloquial term for anyone who, knowingly or not, spreads disease or some other undesirable thing. Actress Elisabeth Moss is reported to be developing a TV mini-series in which “Typhoid Mary” is a central character, based on the 2013 novel Fever by Mary Beth Keane. So next time you want to engage in the culinary delight in a meal without ending in the cemetery, after washing your hands, check if your cook is not sharing the same postulation as the Typhoid Mary of death.