The psychology of the virus ‘super-spreader’

 

Like many infections COVID-19 can produce mild symptoms or none at all in some people, meaning they are not aware they are infected and can spread the virus without realising. COVID-19 may therefore be prone to the phenomenon of the ‘super-spreader’. In this podcast, Dr Raj Persaud talks to Dr Susan Campbell Bartoletti about Mary Mallon, the subject of her recent book ‘Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America’. Mallon was a healthy carrier of typhoid fever at the turn of the 20th century who resisted public health officials’ attempts to contain her. Can the first documented ‘super-spreader’ in history reveal true causes of modern pandemics?


 

Date published: 9 April 2020

Presenter: Dr Raj Persaud

Interviewees: Dr Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Audio running time: 51 minutes

Credits: 0.5

 

Learning outcomes

 

By the end of this podcast, we hope you will have gained an understanding of:

 

  • the life, experiences and behaviour of 'super-spreader' Mary Mallon, a healthy carrier of typhoid fever

 

  • differences in reactions to Government implementation of public health rules during pandemics at the beginning of the 20th century and during the current COVID-19 pandemic

 

  • parallels in public confidence in scientists versus medics and the perceptions of different social classes over time

 

  • similarities in the importance of good hygiene practice, proper sanitation and acceptance of science during pandemics.

 

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If you like this podcast, you may also be interested in the following:

 

Module Health anxiety: Part 1 – concept, prevalence and management by Professor Peter Tyrer and Dr Helen Tyrer

 

Podcast The psychology and psychiatry of pandemics with Professor Steven Taylor

© 2020 Royal College of Psychiatrists