To the Editor, For the young people who aren't too worried about getting COVID-19, a message from the past. In the early 1900s, New York was having a typhoid outbreak. Unlike COVID-19, which is a virus, typhoid is a bacterial disease -- which, like
To the Editor,
For the young people who aren’t too worried about getting COVID-19, a message from the past.
In the early 1900s, New York was having a typhoid outbreak. Unlike COVID-19, which is a virus, typhoid is a bacterial disease -- which, like COVID-19, is often spread by people not washing their hands. And, like COVID-19, typhoid can be fatal.
Mary Mallon, later to be known as Typhoid Mary, worked as a maid and cook for wealthy New York families. She exhibited no typhoid symptoms. Shortly after beginning work for one family, the family fell sick with typhoid. Mary went to work for another family. They, too, fell ill. After a third family fell ill, authorities determined it was Mary who carried the typhoid bacteria.
Now, like many young people today, like the Florida spring vacationers who just wanted a break and to have some fun, Mary had her own needs. She made her living, working and cooking for wealthy people. She needed the work to live.
When the authorities found her, Mary was committed to an isolation center. Several years later she was released on the promise she would not be involved in any job handling food. Four years later, there was another outbreak of typhoid in a sanitarium in New Jersey and a hospital in New York City. It was found Mary had worked in both places. She was located working for another family. She was again placed in an isolation center where she spent the rest of her life.
Poor Mary. All she wanted was to make enough money to live. So that she could live, at least 51 people were infected with typhoid and three died.
Poor college students. They just wanted to have a little well-deserved fun. So that they could have that fun, how many of those close to them, their siblings, parents, grandparents, and friends may become infected with COVID-19? How many might die?
So, young people, this is not about you. Odds are you will come through this pandemic OK. It is about those around you, your family, friends and neighbors, who may not be as lucky, who may even die. Is a week on the beach or not following preventative measures worth your grandmother’s life?
Joseph H. Crowley