Mary Mallon (September 23, 1869 – November 11, 1938), also known as Typhoid Mary, was an Irish-born cook believed to have infected 53 people, three of whom died, with typhoid fever, and the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the disease.

Born: September 23, 1869, Cookstown Northern Ireland, Died: November 11, 1938 USA.

Mary Mallon was born in 1869 in Ireland and immigrated to the US in 1884. She had worked in a variety of domestic positions for wealthy families prior to settling into her career as a cook. As a healthy carrier of Salmonella typhi her nickname of “Typhoid Mary” had become synonymous with the spread of disease, as many were infected due to her denial of being ill. She was forced into quarantine on two separate occasions on North Brother Island for a total of 26 years and died alone.

The sanitary engineer, committed by the Warren family, George Sober, published the results of his investigation on the 15th of June 1907, in JAMA. Having believed initially that freshwater clams [cockles] could be involved in these infections, he had hastily conducted his interrogation of the sick people and also of Mary who had presented a moderate form of typhoid. Mary continued to host the bacteria, contaminating everything around her, a real threat for the surrounding environment. Although Sober initially feared that the soft clams were the culprits, this proved to be incorrect as not all of those stricken had eaten them. Finally Sober had solved the mystery and became the first author to describe a “healthy carrier” of Salmonella typhi in the United States. From March 1907, Sober started stalking Mary Mallon in Manhattan and he revealed that she was transmitting disease and death by her activity. Sober reconstituted the puzzle by discovering that previously the cook had served in 8 families. Seven of them had experienced cases of typhoid. Twenty-two people presented signs of infection and some died.

That year, about 3,000 New Yorkers had been infected by Salmonella typhi, and probably Mary was the main reason for the outbreak. Immunization against Salmonella typhi was not developed until 1911, and antibiotic treatment was not available until 1948.  Thus, a dangerous source like Mary had to be restrained. Mary was then frequently accused of being the source of contact for hundreds of the ill. Sober, after enlisting the support of Dr. Biggs of the N.Y. Department of Health, persuaded Dr. Josephine Baker, who along with the police, was sent to bring Mary Mallon in for testing. Baker and the police were met by an uncooperative Mary, who eluded them for five hours. At the end she was forced to give samples. Mary was positive for Salmonella typhi and thus she was transferred to North Brother Island to Riverside Hospital, where she was quarantined in a cottage.

In 1910, a new health commissioner vowed to free Mary and assist her with finding suitable employment as a domestic but not as a cook. Mary was released but never intended to abide by the agreement. She started working again in the cuisines of her unsuspecting employers, threatening public health once more.  As a cook of Sloane Maternity in Manhattan, she contaminated, in three months, at least 25 people, doctors, nurses and staff. Two of them died. She had managed to be hired as “Mary Brown”. Since by then she was stigmatized as “Typhoid Mary” and she was the butt of jokes, cartoons, and eventually “Typhoid Mary” appeared in medical dictionaries, as a disease carrier. Mary was placed back on North Brother Island where she remained until her death. She died in November 1938. Her body was hurried away and buried in a grave bought for the purpose at St. Raymond’s Cemetery in Bronx. A post mortem revealed that she shed Salmonella typhi bacteria from her gallstones thus she was infecting all she came in contact with, and especially from the food that she was preparing for all the unsuspecting who ate it.

“Typhoid Mary” was perpetually contaminating all she came in contact with, and especially at her places of Employment, so how infectious are you really?  Are you infecting all those who you work with?  Are those around you dying to Sin, Self and to Greed, and then being re-born to a new life of victory in Christ Jesus our Lord?  Is your life and mine a perpetual witness to a buoyant and overcoming victorious life, the evidence is in everything we say, do and are? 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”  A buoyant Christian life should exude from us always, and this should be infecting all we come in contact with, and “Contact Tracing” should show an endless line of infections, many who now have Eternal Life because of Christ in you.  Colossians 1:27-29 “To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”  

Are you a “Life unto Life” or a “Death unto Death?”  Our Story appears to have been adapted, and turned into a very common Irish song, set in Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone, as she wheeled her wheel barrow…. Revelation 15:3-4 “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous [are] thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true [are] thy ways, thou King of saints.  Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For [thou] only [art] holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”  Will your name be praised in song, or will it be despised, are you a “Blessing or a Cursing” to those who you come in contact with?   So how infectious are you really?  Do you need the love of God as found in Christ Jesus our Lord to infect you right now?