Fatal Fever by Gail Jarrow

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Genre: Biography

Page Count: 176

Publication Date: 2015

Summary: In the early 1900’s in large cities like New York, typhoid fever was one of the top 5 causes of death. Whenever an outbreak would occur, sanitation experts and healthcare officials would try to pinpoint where the outbreak began so they could make improvements as necessary (for example, water filtration).  After a series of outbreaks and some detective work, all of the typhoid cases had one thing in common – a cook named Mary Mallon. This book is the story of her forced quarantine over a period of years, her release and eventual recapture.  Though Mary was not sick, she was a carrier of the typhoid bacteria and seemed to spread the disease wherever she went.

Recommend: Yes.  This book was researched very well and paints an interesting detective story of the life of “Typhoid Mary.” There are also historical pictures which add to the narrative.

If You’re Offended: No problems here.

Noteworthy Excerpts: “Crowded cities, like New York […], were grimy, stinking, unsanitary places. Raw sewage fouled the water. Mountains of spoiled food and garbage lined the sidewalks, rotting in the sun. Horses dropped 2,000 tons of manure on streets every day. The city was littered with dead and decomposing animals, including cattle, donkeys, dogs, rats, and more than 10,000 horses a year. Too many people lived crammed together in filthy, poorly built tenement buildings that had overflowing outhouses.”     “This woman is a great menace to health, a danger to the community, and she has been made a prisoner on that account.”

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