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Our bodies are a fortress, and every day, they suffer through attacks from the outside. Over the centuries, we’re become very good at protecting ourselves from illness and disease, but all of those efforts assume everyone around us will be responsible. Illness, though, has often been misused—sometimes maliciously and other times through sheer ignorance—and the results have been horrifying.
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00:00:06before we begin I wanted to give you a quick update on the world of lore the first the second book in my world of lore series called wicked Mortals arrives this month on May 29th if you haven't yet pre-order it now to help and have the best lunch week possible and I'll be on the road right after for a quick book to her so come and see me if you can the pre-order link and a tour scheduling car all over the world of lore. Com Wicked Mortals second the second season of the Amazon TV show is nearly done filming I recently got back from a Kwikset visit and I can tell you first-hand it's absolutely stunning the women and men who are making this season are knocking it out of the park
00:00:50that's it for the updates and now
00:00:53on with the show
00:01:07in 2014 archaeologists working along Hadrian's Wall in northern England found something amazing there at the bottom of a mud field pit of garbage was a perfectly intact 2000 year old toilet seat historians had already learned a lot about Roman toilets over the years but this was the first time an actual seat had been discovered it was carefully carved from a single piece of wood and how to shape that would be instantly recognizable to any of us today that narrow C shaped curve that sits between the toilet itself and the person using it it's become part of the universal language of Sanitation along with pipes and running water all of which are tools designed to keep us clean
00:01:51the rise of major civilizations has always tended to run parallel to their access to freshwater the Romans are a prime example of this their massive network of 11 aqueducts which delivered roughly 300 million gallons of water to them each day allow them to grow and flourish as a culture without freshwater we might not have had the Romans at all
00:02:15history is littered with our mistakes though poor conditions led to an outbreak of typhoid fever in Athens around 4:30 BCE killing a quarter of the City's population the plague of Justinian raged across the Byzantine empire for almost two centuries and by the time it was finished in 750 ad 1/2 of Europe was dead 600 years later the plague return the claim Millions more
00:02:43over the centuries humans have proven the old adage that cleanliness is Next to Godliness and being clean is the best way to stay healthy and fight disease when we do it right eye Society can be transformed elevating the quality of living to a whole new level when we fail though bad things can happen
00:03:06and sometimes as history has shown us those bad things I've been intentional
00:03:14I'm Aaron Mahnke and this is lore
00:03:25the city of feodosiya once called Cafe is an ancient sea port on the Eastern side of Crimea Peninsula the Jets down from the north into the middle of the Black Sea it was founded nearly 800 Years Ago by Italian Merchants from Genoa who were given permission to settle there by the Mongol Empire the biggest kingdom the world had seen up until that moment by the early 1300 no relations had soured between them
00:04:07the Mongol rulers felt bad pigeon Owens were a bit deceitful and disloyal and after years attention they sent forces to reclaim, for themselves in 1343 among Army laid Siege to the port city but although they outnumbered that you know is the fighting was frustratingly slow and then the plague arrived
00:04:30what did you know it's watched from inside their walls their attackers began to die off it was one of the first waves of the Black Death that notorious disease that scientist called yersinia pestis to reach the edges of the West most historians think it had followed the Mongols West from Lake musical what are the main stopping points on the ancient trade route known as the Silk Road
00:04:54when you finally caught up with the Mongol forces at Cava in 1346 it decimated them but in that desperate hour they tried something new they gathered up hundreds of bodies of plague victims loaded them into their catapults in launch them into the city
00:05:13the best contemporary account is a memoir by the Italian Gabriel to moosey this is what he wrote in 1348
00:05:21what seems like mountains of dead were thrown into the City and the Christians could not hide or flee or escape from them although they dumped as many of the bodies as they could in the seat and soon the rotting corpses tainted the air and poison the water supply and the stench was so overwhelming that hardly one in several thousand was in a position to flee
00:05:46today historians a microbiologist considered the siege of complex to be one of the earliest examples of biological warfare it was a shift in the way people thought about disease and well, didn't fall to the Mongols that day the plague was pushed by humans into one of the busiest port cities in the ancient world from there it would have been chilly spread West taking the wives of close to 100 million people over the next five years
00:06:14it might have been one of the first uses of disease as a weapon but it's sadly it wouldn't be the last a few centuries later in North America it was the Europeans turn to give it a try in 1758 after 4 years of conflict known as the French and Indian War the British came to an agreement with the Native American tribes who lived in what would become Ohio and western Pennsylvania the British promised to leave the area if the Native Americans broke ties with their French allies
00:06:44after a number of tribes followed through with their promise the British change their mind provoking a siege of Fort Pitt right there in modern-day Pittsburgh as part of their strategy the British took items that had been exposed to the smallpox virus gave them to the Native Americans as Trojan Horse gifts
00:07:04the outbreak that followed is said to have killed at least a hundred Native Americans and left their forces too sick to maintain The Siege but it was worse than that because like the plague and confer the spread of smallpox reach beyond for pit eventually killing Native Americans all across the region
00:07:22in 1940 Japanese forces bombed a city in northern China with fleas infected with smallpox and other efforts weren't the most effective historians believe upwards of 400,000 people were infected in the resulting outbreak 2 years later the Japanese try it again farther self but some of their ceramic smallpox bombs inadvertently fell on their own troops infecting close to 10,000 of them
00:07:51disease is powerful because it's invisible the people of compound only saw bodies but the real weapon lay inside them as we've learned more about how diseases work it's opened up new ways to abuse that power because the human body will always be at risk of a seeds from the outside which is why we've gotten very good at defending ourselves but that's not always been enough
00:08:17that's because our defense hinges on the assumption that the person who is sick knows that they aren't that they're aware and responsible and will do anything to protect others but what if they are what if they were fully aware of the risk they pose to the people around them but they couldn't care less the results as history is about to show us
00:08:40and be devastating
00:08:57we don't know a lot about her early life but a few details have stuck around we know she was born in Cookstown a poor Village in the northern part of Ireland in 1869 and we know that she boarded a ship at the age of 14 and came to America
00:09:141880s and 1890s were mass of years for immigration that's when my own family arrived at Ellis Island in New York and I bet a lot of you have a similar story Mary came for a better life and a chance to start fresh and work towards something bigger after arriving though she vanished from the public record then 16 years later she resurfaced she was 31 years old by then all grown up and out on her own over the years between 1900 and her youth in Ireland she had become a good Dependable cook and had begun offering her services to some of the wealthy families of New York
00:09:54the first job that we know about the one that she took in 1900 was for a family in a village just up the coast from Staten Island overlooking Long Island Sound for a number of decades it had been the summer destination for families wanting to get out of New York City but some also move there full-time the Mary that meant a lot of potential employers
00:10:17she settled in with that family sometime in early August of 1904 a while things seem to be going well then a couple of weeks later a guest arrive to stay with the family in shortly after he became sick and not just sick this guest had typhoid fever
00:10:37typhoid fever have been around for thousands of years it's the disease responsible for the plague of Athens I mentioned earlier and it's difficult to find a military conflicts since then that doesn't see a few cases that's because military camps for a very long while we're unsanitary places and typhoid fever is spread through contaminated food and water
00:10:59the science has a way of conquering things over time and in 1880 they managed to identify the bacteria that cause the illness in 1896 just four years before the houseguest became sick the first-ever typhoid fever vaccine was introduced but it was rolled out slowly to slowly in fact and 1900 / 35000 Americans died from the disease which meant that while people were hopeful they were also still very nervous
00:11:29so when this guest became ill Mary packed up and left before she herself could do the same that's okay though because there were lots of other big families around in equally big houses in any of them would need to cook Mary managed to escape the illness and find a new job so life went on
00:11:511901 while working for another family one of the housekeepers became ill again it was typhoid fever and again fearing for her own safety Mary left after that she caught wind of a job in Maine and travel North In 1902 to cook for the Drayton family there
00:12:10two weeks after her arrival though one of the children became sick within a month 7 of the nine family members were in bed or ably ill the culprit typhoid fever of course but Mary was helpful and brave she stayed on longer than she would have liked risking her own health to help the family out the father mr. Drayton was so glad for her help that he gave her a large bonus as she was leaving
00:12:38after that it was more and more of the same Mary Bounce from house to house cooking for a while and then leaving out of fear in 1904 while she was working in a house at Sands Point four of the servants she worked with on a daily basis became sick I have to think Mary was beginning to panic there was an outbreak of typhoid fever happening evidence was all around her it seemed and I can't blame her for running away
00:13:06it's also important to point out New York City did seem to be experiencing a sharp uptick in cases of typhoid fever in 1899 there had been only 2,000 confirm cases of the Disease by 1905 that number had doubled 2 / 4,000 ultimately claiming more than 600 lives that year the risk was real and Mary like a lot of other people in New York City felt threatened and unsafe so she continue to run
00:13:36everything Mary experienced reinforce this to there was an outbreak taking place around her and I mean that literally everywhere she went people would get sick maybe she noticed in forced herself to ignore it or perhaps she was honestly clueless and unaware that didn't matter though because others were about to catch on and once they did it wouldn't allow married to run any longer
00:14:04we're past it seems was catching up with her
00:14:23in the summer of 1906 Mary landed a job at the summer house of a wealthy Banker named Charles Henry Warren like a lot of her previous employer is the Warrens had rented a large house overlooking the Waters of Long Island Sound it was summer the ocean blue in life must have seemed good and full of joy for a while at least
00:14:45in August of that year six of the people in the house a mixture of family and staff all came down with typhoid fever that happened so quickly and infected so many people at once that the owner of the house a business man named George Thompson panicked he feared that the health department would condemn his profitable rental property and Burn It To The Ground so he asked the nearby hospital to send someone out to investigate the cause
00:15:12trouble bust they couldn't find a source they were able to map out the spread of a disease through the household but when they followed it all the way back to the first person to get sick that was it they were stuck so Thompson sent a message to the Department of Health asking for someone more qualified and skilled in this sort of situation what they sent him was a sanitary engineer
00:15:37no sanitary engineer's had already been around for decades at this point they were civil engineers tasked with keeping the water supply as clean as possible but in the late 1880s and MIT Professor named William Sedgwick took the field to a whole new level setting it on a trajectory that's led to our modern Water Filtration plant basically we have Sedgwick to thank for those clear sewage free glasses of water that we drink everyday
00:16:03in the 1890s though the field was just getting started and sanitary engineer's in New York City were pulling double duty as both scientist in charge of keeping water clean and also detectives going out into the city to track down the real sources of new epidemics that's the sort of person George Soper was and why he was sent to the Warren household
00:16:27what he discovered there was frightening each and every one of the people in the house infected with typhoid fever had contracted it from a single source of food prepared by the cook supper was a well-read scientist going so far as to have European medical papers translated so that he can learn from advancements overseas and one of the new ideas he had encountered what's this idea of an asymptomatic carrier people who are infected with a disease that show none of the symptoms
00:16:59the trouble was Mary had already run so by the time sober figured out who he needed to talk to McCook had vanished into the wind now remember this was 1906 so tracking people down. It was a lot harder than it is today you couldn't just pick up the phone and call her which is why the detective part of his training was necessary all sober had to go on was her full name Mary Mallon but there was also the agency that had placed her in the Warren household starting their managed to get a list of all the places she had worked at prior to 1906 and out of those eight families seven of them had experienced a typhoid fever outbreak their head even been fatalities which was one reason Soper wanted to work so fast Mary Mallon was a walking incubation chamber for type and she didn't know it
00:17:50thankfully the employment agency was also able to give sober the address of Mary's new job but by the time he found out about it one of the children in the house was close to death so he travel to the house in hopes of seeing Mary for himself obviously he had a lot to discuss with her
00:18:08you have to understand just how driven George Soper was he managed to track the source of an outbreak to a new type of patient one that didn't actually look or feel sick and this was huge for two reasons first if it was true it would open up a whole new way of approaching the work of Public Health officials potentially bringing an end to the constant outbreaks they fought like firefighters second note it meant that if Mary wasn't stopped immediately things could get very bad very quickly
00:18:41when he knocked on the door in March of 1907 and Mary actually answered all of his excitement became uncontainable she invited him into the kitchen and asked what his business was the rather than explain the situation slowly and clearly he immediately asked for samples of her urine and feces shocked and offended Mary picked up a rolling pin and Chase Soper out the front door
00:19:07George Soper was persistent now after tracking down the man she was living with at the time in a room above a Tavern he sat outside the door one evening waiting for her to return home when she did made a better second attempt at his request but Mary was still put off and she screamed at him until he was forced to leave
00:19:28with no other choice left sober paid a visit to the local Department of Health and told them the situation
00:19:35on March 20th of 1907 they sent an ambulance to Mary's Park Avenue location with a team of police officers medical interns and a physician named dr. Josephine Baker they had instructions to bring Mary in whether she wanted to or not
00:19:53Mary however was not about to go quietly
00:20:18I don't know if the police had to knock the front door down or if it was already on what what I do know is when they arrived and dr. Josephine Baker knock on the door Mary opened it up took one look at the collection of medical professionals on her doorstep and then slam it shut after that she vanished into the depths of the house
00:20:39it was a high-stakes game of hide-and-seek one where actual lives were at risk and the pressure was beyond intense they tore the place apart looking for her but after the better part of 3 hours they came up empty Mary Mallon and somehow Slipped Away
00:20:56that's when one of the officers stepped outside the back door the fenced-in yard was Tiny and cramped but he did notice a chair sitting in the grass beside the fence a kitchen chair alert of the others and soon they were all climbing over into a neighbor's yard which is where they found the Hem of Mary stressed sticking out of the door of a small shed
00:21:19dr. Baker would later describe the capture of Mary to George Soper she fought and struggled and cursed she told him I told the police to pick her up and put her in the ambulance this we did and the ride down to the hospital was a wild one
00:21:36and she should know dr. Baker apparently had to sit on Mary the entire way in an effort to keep her from thrashing about she later told reporters that it was like being in a cage with an angry lion but they'd captured their suspect and that was all that mattered
00:21:54Mary was tested for typhoid fever multiple times through urine and stool samples and almost all of those tests came back positive she was exactly what George Soper had thought she was an asymptomatic carrier of a deadly disease to keep the general public safe she was transported to Riverside Hospital on North brother island in the middle of the East River
00:22:17that was 1907 nearly three years later in 1910 she was still there still captive still in isolation they had to explain to her how she carry the disease without knowing it and how because of that she had infected nearly a dozen families people had died they told her but he also thought they knew how to help her all they had to do was remove her gallbladder and she would be a safe and normal member of society once again
00:22:45Mary however refused she refused to believe she was sick she refused to allow them to operate she refused to admit that she might be responsible for an outbreak of a deadly disease so4 3 years she lay in a hospital bed just waiting
00:23:05imagine that her release from captivity was a complete shock to her in February of 1910 the new commissioner of the health department decided that enough was enough if Mary would swear to never work as a cook ever again he would agree to Let Her Go free Mary pledge to follow his instructions left the hospital and vanished
00:23:28she tried her hand at running a boarding house but it turns out she wasn't very good at that she missed the good pay that came with being a cook but Mary Mallon wasn't allowed to do that anymore so she did the only thing she could think of she changed her name and got a new job as a cook and she did this for five more years
00:23:511915 our old friend George Soper received a message from Sloane maternity hospital in New York City Bad 25 patients who'd come down with typhoid fever and they believe that they identified the suspect a woman who cooked for them a woman named Mary when the authorities arrived to take her into custody This Time Mary didn't fight back
00:24:15all told Mary Mallon spent about 26 years in captivity because of her illness it was one of those real life examples of that old Star Trek notion of the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few however cruel it might have been Mary was a trojan horse of disease and during her few years as a cook in the city she had infected dozens and killed at least three as barbaric as it sounds to us today the Department of Health have a Time felt that if she couldn't be cured she had to be kept
00:24:47but it wasn't all darkness and isolation for Mary during her second stay on North brother Island the hospital staff they're actually gave her a job in the on-site lab it paid well to the gave her a small cottage outside the main building and every now and then she was even allowed to go into the city to shop and see old friends they say she read a lot in her spare time
00:25:11Mary had a stroke in 1932 a delivery man found her on the floor for cottage unable to get up so she was moved into the hospital and taken care of there she lived another six years before passing away in November of 1938 she was just 69 years old
00:25:42the threat of infectious disease will always horrify us the fear is similar to being in a crowded room and someone shouting that there is an invisible killer among the people there headache and Chaos would take over in a heartbeat and every single person would become George Costanza shoving their way to the door without a second thought for the others around them
00:26:05Leica ancient Fortress of caffa our bodies are under siege Everyday by invisible forces and if we ever need proof of that we need it look further than Mary Mallon dr. Josephine Baker's boss a man named Walter Benzel refer to Mary as a living fever Factory she just didn't know it
00:26:26if you dig around the internet enough you're probably going to read that the staff of the hospital performed an autopsy on Mary's body after she died no story say that the medical examiner removed her gallbladder and found it to be teaming with the bacteria that causes typhoid fever but according to George sober himself those stories are lies
00:26:48in an article written a year after her death for the bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine Soper explicitly Road there was no autopsy there was barely even a funeral super records that only nine people attended her services at St Lukes and none of them were staff from the hospital after a tragic lonely life Mary Mallon received an equally tragic and lonely send off he doesn't come out and say it but there's a sadness in between soper's words to him she was remarkable
00:27:22for decades after Mary was used as the literal poster child for infectious disease they called her Typhoid Mary and cartoons would usually show her cooking a meal then one of the better-known examples Mary is sprinkling little skulls into a frying pan thanks to her the world became more aware of how careful we need to be about the food we put in our bodies and who prepares it
00:27:47her story isn't without flaws though there are deep ethical questions about the way the entire situation was handled so how in 1907 the forest captivity and isolation of a human being was presented to the public as a good idea
00:28:02Mary though had a different opinion she claimed it was discrimination that she was only treated this way because she was Irish and lower class before her death in 1938 another 400 asymptomatic patients were discovered in New York City but none of them were forcibly confined like Mary
00:28:21Judith walzer Leavitt professor of medical history at the University of Wisconsin presents the best balance I've read on this topic
00:28:30wherever we position ourselves as individuals and as a society we must come to terms with the fundamental issue that whether we think of them as guilty or innocent people who seem healthy can indeed carry disease and under some conditions May Menace the health of those around them optimally we search for responses that are Humane to the sufferers and at the same time protect those who are still healthy
00:28:57I'm not saying it's an easy topic to nail down on one hand if a contagious plague broke out in our community any of us would fight for our families ability to stay away from those who are infected on the other hand though all of those patients deserve to be treated humanely
00:29:15at the end of the day it's all hypothetical for most of us we don't have to make those choices right now but Mary live them each and every day she fought for her freedom and lost sure some people think the authorities did the right thing but others disagree what they can all agree on I suppose is that people were afraid
00:29:38and we still are nearly a century later with bacteria adapting to resist modern antibiotics and each season of the flu seemingly worse than the last it's difficult not to ask the same hypothetical questions George Soper and Mary Mallon were forced to face what would you deserve if you were sick what would you deserve if you weren't and wanted to keep it that way the answer is to those 2 questions stand on opposite sides of the debate and both of them have valid points
00:30:10they might be overly optimistic of me but let's hope we never have to pick sides
00:30:44Mary Mallon spent most of her 26 years of captivity living on North brother island in the middle of the East River it's easy to think of that place as a disposable prop in a larger story but most people don't know is just how tragic a past that Island actually has if you'll join me and want to give you a brief tour of that dark place that was so much more than just a prison for Typhoid Mary stick around after the break to learn more
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00:35:47Europeans have been visiting New York City for almost 500 years of course in 1524 there was no City in the places we know today is Staten Island Queens the Bronx Manhattan and Brooklyn were all inhabited by the Native American tribe known as the algonquin's but not North brother Island I bet even go to Dutch Lake claim to the small 20-acre island way back in 1614 no one actually inhabited the place until 1885 that's when Riverside Hospital Marion Allen's unwanted home was built as a way of isolating in treating people suffering from smallpox then in June of 1904 tragedy struck
00:36:30over 1,300 members of a local church climbed on board the general Slocum a side wheel Steamboat that had been operating in East River for a little over a decade they boarded the ship on June 15th plans to travel to a picnic site known as Locust Grove but I never made it
00:36:49the fire broke out in the lamp room and quickly spread throughout the ship the captain called his crew to action but there was nothing they could do all of the fire hoses and life preservers have been left unchecked in the Sun for years it just fell apart in their hands they were trapped on a burning ship in the middle of a river
00:37:09the ship finally came to a stop just off the coast in North brother Island but it was too late over 1,000 passengers were dead the biggest loss of human lives in the history of New York City tragedy that would stay on the records until September 11th 2001
00:37:27hundreds of bodies washed up on the shore of the island while they were eventually collected and given a proper burial some people think they left bit of themselves behind a darkness that has haunted the island ever since they point to the decades the followed as proof Riverside Hospital continue to play host to the sick although over the years that sickness of the moment I always seem to change smallpox gave way to typhoid fever and then tuberculosis they even built a brand new wing for those TB patients but an antibiotic was discovered almost immediately after the hospital close to the building was briefly used as College housing for World War II veterans taking classes at local schools but by the early 1950s everyone was gone there was an attempt to use the island as a rehab center for troubled youth in the early 60s but even that seems to have failed
00:38:21play the island is home to Wildlife empty buildings and according to some who goes to the Past visitor City Island have reported unusual experiences that left them feeling unsettled and Afraid some have heard voices or felt invisible hands touch them as they walk the halls of the old buildings other is 15 Shadows the move or clouds of unnatural missed it's enough to keep most people away
00:38:49Mary Mallon it seems was a woman of the islands the green beauty of Ireland and the bustle of New York City contrast starkly with her final years on that much darker patch land I can't help but assume she was haunted by all sorts of demons most I'm sure we're personal or anger and frustration or loneliness and fear but perhaps a few of them were already there before she arrived
00:39:18and if the stories are true
00:39:20it never left
00:39:32this episode of Lord was written and produced by me Aaron Mahnke with music by Chad Lawson and research help from marcet Crockett and Carl Nellis if you're new around here this is my friendly reminder the lore is a lot more than just a biweekly audio story there is an ongoing book series from penguin Random House a television show available on Amazon Prime membership site with extra episodes and so much more you can learn all about everything over in one place the world of lore. Com now and if you don't want to miss out on anything new that it's happening and you're a social media sort of person you're welcome to follow the show on Twitter Facebook and Instagram just search for lore podcast all one word and then click that follow button and when you do say hi I like it when people say hi
00:40:26and as always
00:40:28thanks for listening

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