During the 1913-1914 holiday season, 28 cases of typhoid fever were reported in Rockville and three people died.
The new U.S. Public Health Service investigated, and identified the town's water system as the problem. Contaminated ground water from the privy (private outhouse) at nearby 308 Baltimore Road had seeped through the cracked housing at well No.1 at Rockville's Pump House. Chlorine was immediately administered into the well to kill off the bacteria.
Public Health Bulletin No. 65, Typhoid Fever in Rockville, MD, publicized this sanitation issue nationwide, and Rockville illustrated both the problem and the solution. Following the typhoid epidemic, Rockville developed a municipal-wide sewerage system to complement the water system. When completed in 1916, all homes were required to connect.
Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection of the intestinal tract and occasionally the bloodstream. It is caused by a strain of Salmonella called Salmonella typhi. Due to improvements in water and sewer systems, by the 1950s it was considered an uncommon disease in the United States.