Major funding for NOVA is also provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by PBS viewers like you. NARRATOR: August, 1906: in this luxurious vacation home in Oyster Bay, Long Island, a young girl, Margaret Warren, is gravely ill with typhoid fever.She has the best care, but without a cure, all anyone can do is try to bring down her fever.
This knowledge will lead them to an unsuspecting Irish immigrant, a servant named Mary Mallon. The tragic story of The Most Dangerous Woman in America, right now, on NOVA.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN (Chef and Author, Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical): They called her—I love this phrase— "She is a human culture tube," you know, this, this pestilential entity that must be stopped. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the Park Foundation, dedicated to education and quality television. Science: it's given us the framework to help make wireless communications clear. This program has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities, expanding America's understanding, for more than 30 years, of who we were, who we are and who we will be; and by the National Library of Medicine.
They started looking for the usual suspects, you know, "Let's find the dirty, the poor, uh, you know, maybe some bad dairy, the lady on the beach who sells shellfish, it's got to be one of them." NARRATOR: Experts are called in to investigate.
They know typhoid fever is caused by contaminated food or drink. Though the Oyster Bay victims recover, a cloud of disease hangs over the house.
Typhoid fever comes from salmonella typhi, bacteria that grow in the intestinal tract and are shed in the feces.
In 1892, New York City set up the country's first bacteriology laboratory devoted to public health.Thirty-seven-year-old George Soper is confident and ambitious.GEORGE SOPER: By 1907, I had had a good deal of experience with typhoid fever.As an undergraduate, I had the temerity to move typhoid patients and their families out of a house that had a long history of communicable diseases and, with the consent of the owner, burn it to the ground.JUDITH WALZER LEAVITT: George Soper was somebody who got his teeth into a problem and would not let go. He was not going to give up until he did, and so he was obsessed.This is the last thing Charles Warren, banker to the Vanderbilts, expected when he rented a house for his family in this exclusive seaside resort.