Mallon worked as a cook in the early 1900s. In 1906, although she had
no symptoms of the disease, she was the unwitting carrier of the dread
disease typhoid fever. Since that time, the appellation Typhoid
Mary is given to persons who spread infections to those
around them, often quite innocently.
The annual conference of the
American Christian Fiction Writers in September will bring together a
huge group of people from all over the United States and other parts of
the world. And it’s a certainty that some of them will either be ill
when they leave home or become ill while at the conference. None of us
wants to be a Typhoid Mary. Can we do anything to keep from spreading
Most respiratory illnesses are
spread by droplet contamination. Droplets of saliva from a cough or
sneeze that are transferred to hands can live from two to eight
hours—plenty long enough to be passed on to another person. Years ago
most of us formed the habit of covering our mouths with our hands when
we cough and sneeze. Now that’s changed. Ideally, we should sneeze into
a tissue, which we should dispose of as soon as possible. If we can’t
do that, we should cover our mouths and noses with our sleeves.
Having said that, it becomes
pretty obvious that a major part of prevention is hand washing. Here’s
the Centers for Disease Control suggestion:
Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
• Rub your hands together to make a lather, and scrub them well; be
sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under
• Continue rubbing your hands for at least twenty seconds. Need a
timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
• Rinse your hands well under running water. Dry your hands using a
clean towel or air dry.
wash your hands? Use a
commercial hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
These can kill most—but not all—commonly encountered germs.
taking the flu vaccine
help? Definitely. Although flu season supposedly doesn’t start until
winter, significant outbreaks occur every fall, and for years I’ve
taken my flu vaccine in early September. What if you get sick anyway?
Unfortunately, patients with flu are still infectious up to ten days
after the onset of symptoms, although Tamiflu, one of the new
anti-viral medications, can shorten this (and the course of the
Lest you decide to forego the
ACFW conference and hibernate in a plastic bubble, realize that these
common sense precautions can go a long way in keeping you well. Can
they get you an appointment with an agent or editor? Sorry, I can’t
provide a prescription for that. You’re on your own there.
Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician whose debut novel of medical
suspense, Code Blue, garnered rave reviews and was
repeatedly ranked in the top 50 medical thrillers on Amazon. His next
two books, Medical Error and Diagnosis
Death, both received critical acclaim, including a 4 ½ star
rating (the highest given) from Romantic Times Book Reviews. His fourth
novel, Lethal Remedy, is scheduled for publication this fall. Richard
and his wife live in North Texas, where, when he’s not writing or
trying to improve his golf game, he tries to be the world’s best