Panama Canal Typhoid Fever and COVID 19 Discussion and Responses

Describe at least two lessons public health can learn from the events surrounding the outbreak of Typhoid Fever and its healthy carrier, Mary Mallon.

Compare and contrast the events surrounding the historical public health outbreaks related to the Construction of the Panama Canal and to the outbreaks of Typhoid Fever with the global circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.  What similarities and differences are noteworthy from a public health perspective?


respond 1As a cook, Mary did not follow basic personal hygiene. She infected many people, and even most of them died. From a public health point of view, she was a healthy typhoid carrier, so she was epidemiologically difficult to find. I’m so sorry about this part. If the health authorities had found Mary a little earlier, so many people wouldn’t have died. In the past, there must have been many difficulties due to limited scientific investigation of certain diseases. On the other hand, I think Mary lacked the work ethic as a cook. What is the sin of those who died of typhoid fever after eating her food? Mary, who has not kept her personal hygiene as a cook, deserves criticism. But the fact that she was imprisoned for 30 years is ridiculous. Although typhoid fever is to have been a deadly disease, it is ironic that Mary was imprisoned for 30 years. Were there no vaccines or drugs at the time to effectively cure the disease? Was it best to confine her? As far as public health is concerned, I realize again that epidemiological investigations of diseases and personal hygiene are really important.The coronavirus was characterized by transmission through the respiratory system. So, the disease spreads through human contact. However, yellow fever in the Panama Canal was transmitted by mosquitoes. Both killed a lot of people but have different channels of transmission. The causes of the two cases are different, but the cause of the transmission was found in a similar way. Both were used to detect and prevent infectious diseases by using epidemiological methods.

respond 21) When the French were constructing the canal first, starting in the 1880’s, they ran into several public health  problems including outbreaks of malaria, dysentary, and yellow fever just to name a few. Together, the French suffered a death toll over 20,000 workers. When the U.S took over in 1904, they experienced the same issues and sanitation practices were put in place including draining any water from puddles and stream to prevent the growing population of mosquitos. It was the U.S who discovered that the female mosquitos would carry and transmit malaria, while the male mosquitos would carry and transmit yellow fever. Another major issue was the flooding of portions of the canal, something both the French and the U.S experienced. When heavy rain came donw, many rivers nearby would over-flow and flood portions of the canal that had been dug. The flooding was fixed by the U.S design which included canal locks, something that is still in use today. 2) The public health field could learn that while stigmatism will always be around, it is very unwise to contribute to it by putting a negative label on someone. In this case, “Typhoid Mary” likey only added to the spread of misinformation about her and the disease as well as make Mary Mallon feel that she cannot trust the doctors and medical professionals to help her properly, causing her to do what she wants in the first place. They could also learn that education regarding the diseases people may be carrying or are at risk of, is probably better than stalking them down as George Sober did to Mary Mallon after he discovered that she must be a carrier of Typhoid Fever, and the firsr known “healthy carrier” at that.3) In both the events surroudning the contruction of the Panama Canal and Typhoid Fever, there  were many issues presented to the public health establishment of the U.S. For example, dealing with the fast spread of malaria and yellow fever in Panama was a troubling issue and there were many beliefs about its source. However, the U.S discovered after it took control of the construction, that water sources (particularly stagnant ones like the lakes, streams, and swamps of the area, were the main cause of the mosquitos, which were also found to be the main carriers for both malaria and yellow fever. In the case of Typhoid Fever and “Typhoid Marry”, there is a similar situation where a woman was infected with typohoid fever and was also a “healthy carrier”, something they had not seen until then and the solution was to study her and her condition. Unfortunatley, she was treated poorly and was sigmatized by the very people she was supposed to trust. The link betwen these two examples and the COVID-19 pandemic is that people with COVID-19 were also treated poorly in some respects, as were people who did not feel the need to be vaccinated. Without discussing the validity of vaccines, their effects and side effects, or any politics surrounding the issue, there was no doubt sigmatism of the vaccines and the poeple who did or did not get them from nearly all sides. COVID-19 presented an interesting issue similar to that of typhoid fever becuase of how serious it can be for people, especially those who are 65+. Both diseases cause greater harm ot those who are older and both can have long lasting affects. The main difference I see between the public health issues of the construction of the Panama Canal and Typhoid Fever compared to the COVID-19 pandemic is that we are better equiped with both knowledge and medical technology to research, treat, and develope solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic and future issues than we were in the past. The main similarity I see is actually the stigmatism and politics that so often intrude in everything.

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