This Presidents’ Day, we are examining the bacteria that took down some of our fearless leaders.
Cause of Death: Escherichia coli
Was romaine lettuce the cause of Thomas Jefferson’s death on July 4th, 8126? Not quite. Though E. coli has been the cause of recent romaine lettuce recalls, Thomas Jefferson acquired the bacteria through an unsterile medical technique leading to the kidney infection that ultimately claimed his life.
William Henry Harrison
Cause of Death: Salmonella
William Henry Harrison was the first president to die in office, after contracting typhoid fever. A common misconception is that Harrison contracted pneumonia from a severe cold. Modern research, however, points to typhoid fever, caused by a type of Salmonella contaminating the water (the public water supply was near the sewer drainage).
James K. Polk