Diagnosis of a public health menace

Fever by Mary Beth Keane. Simon & Schuster, €16.35.

27th April, 2013
Typhoid Mary: novelist Mary Beth Keane retells her tragic yet farcical story.


The original Typhoid Mary was first arrested in New York in 1907. Mary Mallon, an Irish immigrant, was an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid. She displayed no symptoms of the disease but, through her work as a cook, infected scores of people.

Her story is both tragic and farcical. Following three years of quarantine on North Brother Island, she was released on condition that she change her occupation. She continued to take cooking jobs, including one, under...

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