COVID-19 and “Typhoid Mary”

Personal Injury is a special branch of legal expertise – it requires talented people working on your case, who understand the implications of car wrecks, as well as long term effects of permanent or life-threatening injuries. 

Our law office has received many calls from people worried about liability from COVID-19 exposure. It is almost impossible to prove how, when, or where an infection was acquired. While the damage can be serious and cause a drastic change in life, there is usually no blame to be assigned.

Another Famous Infection
One of the most famous cases of bacterial infection took place 110 years ago. A woman named Mary Mallon took a job as a cook for a very rich family. One by one, the family members became ill with typhoid fever, and one of them died. It was a mystery, because while typhus was associated with contaminated drinking water, the very rich on Long Island, NY in 1906 had clean water. A health inspector finally figured out the one thing the ailing people had in common. They all ate ice cream with peaches –Mary’s signature dessert. After a short period of investigation, it was discovered Mary had also infected other families she worked for. 

To protect the public, “Typhoid Mary” was sequestered on an island, away from potential victims. But she was not going to go without a fight. She sued for her rights. With a promise not to become a cook for anyone, Mary was allowed to return to society; whereupon, she resumed cooking and was thought responsible for an outbreak that claimed 3,000 citizens of New York. A few more people died as a result.

Finally recaptured, “Typhoid Mary” was isolated for 26 years. She died alone and without friends on that island – but with a solid faith that gave her comfort. Any intimate contact Mary had with people would have probably resulted in more infection; however, if she had just agreed not to work in a job that could infect people, she might have lived freely.
Read her story here. 

Why Today Is Different
Today, we have almost the opposite scenario. Millions of people could end up carrying the COVID-19 virus worldwide…and not even be aware of it. The virus has seven varieties, with COVID-19 being the latest. Relatively few people (those with compromised immune systems or other deadly infections) are susceptible to its more serious symptoms.

Unlike “Typhoid Mary” (one person who infected thousands), we have thousands of people spreading the infection – maybe to you. This is what is inevitable about COVID-19, influenza and many other viruses like the measles– once established in our culture, they are very difficult to eradicate. 

Additional Reading
If you’d like to learn more about infectious diseases, here’s another one that might interest you:

Smallpox was very deadly.  From 1870 to 1875, it was responsible for 500,000 deaths in the Franco-Prussian conflict. In the 1800’s, every seventh Russian child died from the disease. Finally, in 1979, after 2 years with no new cases, smallpox was defeated and declared dead. Read more about it. 

Written by Ted Baldwin

May we help you with a legal situation? To schedule a private consultation, call the Gouner Law Office at 225-293-6200 or toll free 800-404-1921You can also fill out our contact form.

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