The Clean Truth About the Dirty Truth Behind “Superspreaders” of Disease

wenty percent of the population is responsible for the transmission of 80 percent of infectious pathogens or diseases, according to Sumathi Reddy, a personal journal reporter for The Wall Street Journal who was interviewed in this recent video called The Dirty Truth Behind ‘Superspreaders’ — and apparently those people who are part of the twenty percent can both spread it while they are sick and because they are not sick.

Reddy cites the case of Mary Mallon — more famously known as Typhoid Mary — who was the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever. Three of the 53 people she supposedly infected by cooking their meals had died during her career as a personal chef for different individuals and families within the greater metropolitan New York City area. She was quarantined twice by the health department of the City of New York and died of pneumonia — not of typhoid fever — after a combined total of nearly three decades in isolation.

While it is unknown as to whether or not humans can be “superspreaders” — or asymptomatic carriers — of the common cold, it is supposedly applicable with viruses such as influenza, Salmonella and measles.

The virulence of a pathogen, individual biology, and the environment can be three of many factors that can lead to a “superspreading event” of having an asymptomatic carrier pass on the infectious pathogens or diseases to other people — such as spreading the flu to people simultaneously crowded in a room.

As for the individual biology of a person, it is currently nearly impossible to easily identify someone as either an asymptomatic carrier or as a person naturally more susceptible or more vulnerable to suffering the effects of being infected with a pathogen or disease.

Using typhoid fever as an example, according to this article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, “You can get typhoid fever if you eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding Salmonella Typhi or if sewage contaminated with Salmonella Typhi bacteria gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Therefore, typhoid fever is more common in areas of the world where handwashing is less frequent and water is likely to be contaminated with sewage.”

I bolded the words in the last paragraph as yet more evidence of the importance of washing your hands properly and thoroughly as cited in this article, which is usually so easy to do and yet not nearly enough people develop it as a habit as a part of their routine. Although you cannot protect yourself from contracting typhoid fever by merely washing your hands in areas of the world where the disease is more common — getting vaccinated and avoiding risky foods and drinks are the two most effective preventative methods — the spread of typhoid fever can potentially be significantly reduced simply with the hygienic practice of people properly washing their hands…

…which causes me to wonder if Mary Mallon could have avoided major problems by washing her hands properly — especially every time she handled and prepared the food of other people…

…so it appears that the clean truth about the dirty truth behind “superspreaders” of disease is to properly wash your hands, as I wonder how many diseases could be substantially mitigated or completely eradicated if only everyone around the world took the few minutes of time and effort to properly wash their hands…

One thought on “The Clean Truth About the Dirty Truth Behind “Superspreaders” of Disease”

  1. DaninMCI says:

    Many don’t wash hands properly including health care workers. You have to be careful for sure. I think the biggest problem domestically is people who are sick and know they are sick but still go to work, on planes, to stores, etc. People need to get vaccinated and stay home when sick.

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