“As a society and as individuals,

we must protect healthy people from disease. We must also treat those

suffering from disease in an intelligent, humane, and compassionate way.”

–Susan Campbell Bartoletti

On 27th March 1915, Mary Mallon, or “Typhoid Mary”, the first healthy carrier of disease ever identified in the United States, was put in quarantine, where she would remain for the rest of her life.

Mary Mallon was an Irish-American cook who was the first identified asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever. She was responsible for infecting up to 51 people, including 3 who died, through the spreading of the disease.

She was first forcibly contained in 1907, and remained in isolation for three years, until she convinced authorities to release her on the condition of leaving her cooking career. She then worked as a laundress at a lower pay, until she decided to change her name to Mary Brown and resume cooking. She frequently shifted employers and caused multiple typhoid outbreaks, before being arrested again in 1915 and placed under life-time isolation on North Brother Island. While in confinement, Mary worked as a laboratory technician until her death by pneumonia in 1938.

During her life, she became known as “Typhoid Mary” and developed into a minor celebrity. Till date, the notorious term is used colloquially in popular reference to anyone carrying disease or any other undesirable thing.