The Role of Chemistry in History

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U.S. and the West

April 29th, 2008 · No Comments ·

Introduction | History | How It Works

Uses | Typhoid Fever | Side Effects

Synthetic Production | U.S. and the West


The U.S. and the Western world have stopped using chloramphenical in its ingestible form. Only topical ointments are recommended, as for conjuctivitis.

According to Tatli et al. (2003), “approximately 16 million cases of typhoid fever occur annually in the developing world” (p. 350). The U.S. and the Western world is lucky to have the choice of whether or not to use chloramphenicol to fight a widespread epidemic. Many developing countries are afflicted with “civil war,” to suffering economies, and the deterioration of the “country’s infrastructure” (Mermin et al., 1999, p. 1416).


Of those who become victims of typhoid fever, “5%…become asymptomatic chronic carriers” (Mermin et al., 1999, p. 1416).Typhoid fever has influenced history in its shift of power in Ancient Greece and in the persecution of Mary Mallon, a woman whose nickname “Typhoid Mary” is still recognized today. History, however, has also changed medicine and the treatment of disease around the world. The ability to synthetically produce chloramphenicol has allowed underdeveloped nations to have access to an antibiotic that successfully treats typhoid fever. Its controversial side effects are changing the course of history. Some underdeveloped nations refuse to use chloramphenicol because it can cause aplastic anemia and childhood leukemia. This refusal is limiting the ability of developing nations to treat epidemics that exist and may spread due to unchanging sanitation issues. Chloramphenicol has provided the world with the hope to provide affordable healthcare to all nations of the world. The emergence of this antibiotic has made this hope a realization, and has relieved many victims of typhoid fever around the world, no matter economic circumstance.

Tags: Chloramphenicol