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This is my personal reaction to the typhoid vaccination—redness the size of a baseball and soreness at the site of the shot on my arm.

Well, at least, I'll be protected from the full blown, nasty disease and also from transmitting it.

Typhoid fever is not something we think about much in the United States, thankfully. However, many of us have heard the reference to Typhoid Mary, born Mary Mallon in Ireland (September 23, 1869 – November 11, 1938).

She was the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever and is presumed to have infected 51 people, three of whom died, over the course of her career as a cook.  She was twice forcibly isolated by public health authorities and forced to sign an affidavit that she would not work as a cook or caretaker, a promise she quickly broke and changed her name in order not to be discovered.

Mallon admitted poor hygiene, but said she did not understand the purpose of hand-washing because she was healthy and therefore could not pose a risk to others.  In prison, she was forced to give body fluid samples and doctors found significant typhoid bacteria in her gallbladder.  Insisting she felt healthy, she refused to have her infected gallbladder removed. Typhoid Mary carried the disease but never showed symptoms.  She died of pneumonia.

Boy, I know I'm going to do much more rigorous hand washing from now on and am grateful for all those signs on bathroom walls insisting that workers wash their hands before returning to their tasks!

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