Is it possible that CDC Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox is another Typhoid Mary? Unlike Mary she may be totally free of infection; but if so, a few days watching television rather than riding her bike is no big deal when lives could be at stake. Like Mary, Kaci refuses to be quarantined and is defying health officials in Maine. Like Mary, she should be confined against her will until she is definitely innocuous.
Mary Mallon, “the most dangerous woman in America” was born in Ireland and later worked as a cook for wealthy families in New York. She was the first known carrier of typhoid fever in the USA, and although without any symptoms, she was still contagious and continued to spread the disease to at least 53 persons (who spread it to others), three of whom died. It is thought she infected 50 others who died but it could not be determined since she changed her name so often. She refused to stop working as a cook and was confined to a hospital where she died 20 years later.
Mary worked as a cook from 1900 to 1907 in New York City area and within two weeks of her employment, residents developed typhoid fever. Then she moved to New York City where members of the family for whom she worked developed fever and diarrhea, and the laundress died. Mallon then went to work for a lawyer; she quit after seven of the eight people in that household became ill. She took other positions in Long Island, and left a trail of infection everywhere. She always resigned when family members became ill.
She was identified as “typhoid Mary” in a 1908 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Later, in a textbook, she was given the moniker of “Typhoid Mary.”
She was approached by a typhoid researcher who asked for urine, blood, and feces samples but she refused and charged him with a large, sharp craving fork. He absconded quickly, and when he did a study of her employment it revealed that seven of the eight families she cooked for had contracted typhoid fever.
The New York City Health Department sent Dr. Josephine Baker after Mary and Baker took five cops and an ambulance. Mary lunged at her with a large fork but was finally restrained and taken into custody. She was held in isolation on a small island in New York City’s East River for three years. In 1910 she was released after promising to stop cooking and to take hygienic measures. She got work as a laundress but that paid less than cooking, consequently, she changed her name to Mary Brown and went back into the kitchen and continued to infect innocent people–people were paying her to infect them!
In 1915 she caused another outbreak while cooking for a hospital in New York City under her alias, Mary Brown. Twenty-five people were infected and two died. In March of 1915 she was arrested and returned to the island where she was confined for the rest of her life.
Mallon was the first asymptomatic typhoid carrier known to health officials and denied to her death with pneumonia at age 69 that she was a carrier. She declared that she never had typhoid fever and was never sick, and never had any symptoms. Since she was asymptomatic the city and state officials had no policy to handle such cases. Her autopsy showed evidence of live typhoid bacteria in her gallbladder.
Typhoid Mary did not have a right to privacy because she was a threat to society. Ebola, HIV, and typhoid carriers fall into the same category. When I interviewed Notre Dame law professor Dr. Charles Rice, we discussed the rights of infectious people. "This is a public health issue. Doctors are not protected by the privacy shield." When dealing with a fundamental right, Rice said, "Restrictions must be justified by a compelling state interest and it must be the least restrictive method available."
The state has a compelling interest in protecting the public through identifying, listing, tracing, and, if necessary, quarantining possible Ebola carriers. No one can be positive about Kaci’s health–not yet.
Kaci recently returned from working with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and refused to be quarantined saying that it violated her civil rights. She must thinkher right to ride her bicycle for a few days is more important than the rights of others to stay alive! A Maine judge agreed with her and on Oct. 31 ordered that since she is being monitored by health officials she cannot be detained. The judge said that because she has no symptoms, she is not infectious! I didn’t know lawyers, even judges, had medical training. Of course, even the “medical experts” don’t know who’s on first–or second.
Kaci wrote an op-ed piece for the Dallas Morning News after returning from Africa suggesting that fellow health workers coming home from Africa might face a “most frightening quarantine.” She did not explain how quarantine could be frightening.
It is criminal to expose innocent people to a deadly virus, especially until all the facts are in regarding all possibilities of contracting it. Those who permit, preach, and prescribe the right to privacy for infectious health personnel are guilty of patient abuse, child abuse, malfeasance, dereliction of duty, and stupidity–and there’s no cure for stupidity.
The public welfare must take precedence over a right to privacy. My conclusion is that Kaci is a spoiled, self-centered schnook who is trading on her admirable 30-day service to Ebola victims for her undeserved fifteen-minutes of fame.
However, quarantine is not a game and it’s a shame for this dame to use it for fame. I pray she never gains fame as “Ebola Kaci.”
Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives; ran a large Christian school in Indianapolis, wrote columns for USA Today for eight years; authored 15 books, which can be purchased below, and hundreds of columns and articles for Internet and print media publications; defended his beliefs on hundreds of talk shows. www.cstnews.com, www.Muslimfact.com, www.thegodhaters.com.
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