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Grade 7 Up–Based on the book Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public's Health by Judith Walzer Leavitt, this program questions how far we should go to protect ourselves from disease. Live-action dramatizations are intermixed with still photographs and black-and-white film to portray the story of the intense investigation and eventual seclusion of Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary), the Irish immigrant cook working on Long Island in 1906. She was finally banished to a quarantined island off Manhattan where other ill, contagious, and poor people were secluded at the turn of the century. The health authorities claimed she was responsible for the illness of 47 people and the deaths of three others, even though she never became ill. At that time, it was assumed that typhoid fever was a "slum disease," and it was difficult to understand how this contagious disease could infect a wealthy community. The concept of bacteria being the cause of disease was quite new. Even more astonishing was the concept of healthy carriers of disease. In his zeal to solve the mystery, the chief investigator treated Mary insensitively and she rebelled. Consequently, she was punished more severely than other healthy carriers of typhoid. Mary's case provided science with the vital information to advance knowledge about bacteria, but came at the cost of her own personal freedom. This excellent production can be used across the curriculum to generate discussions about personal freedom, public health policies, and medical advances.–Alice O'Grady, Woodrow Wilson High School, Long Beach, CA
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