Mary Mallon, now known as Typhoid Mary, seemed a healthy woman when a health inspector knocked on her door in 1907, yet she was the cause of several typhoid outbreaks. Since Mary was the first "healthy carrier" of typhoid fever in the United States, she did not understand how someone not sick could spread disease -- so she tried to fight back. After a trial and then a short run from health officials, Typhoid Mary was recaptured and forced to live in relative seclusion upon North Brother Island off New York.
You can get typhoid fever if you eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding typhoid fever bacteria (Salmonella typhi), or if sewage contaminated with typhoid fever bacteria gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Therefore, typhoid fever is more common in areas of the world where hand washing is less frequent and where water is likely to be contaminated with sewage. Once Salmonella typhi bacteria are ingested, they multiply and spread into the bloodstream. The body reacts with fever and other symptoms.
Typhoid fever is most often caused by the Salmonella typhi bacteria. Infection of Salmonella typhi leads to the development of typhoid fever. This disease is characterized by the sudden onset of a sustained and systemic fever, severe headache, nausea, and loss of appetite. Other symptoms include constipation or diarrhea, enlargement of the spleen, possible development of meningitis, and/or general depression. Untreated typhoid fever cases result in mortality rates ranging from 12-30% while treated cases allow for 99% survival. S. typhi has a combination of characteristics that make it an effective pathogen. This species contains an endotoxin typical of Gram negative organisms, as well as the Vi antigen which is thought to increase virulence. It also produces and excretes a protein known as “invasin” that allows non-phagocytic cells to take up the bacterium, where it...
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