Who Discovered Typhoid Vaccine?
Typhoid vaccine, which gives immunity against typhoid fever, was discovered by Sir Almroth Wright (1861-1947), a British scientist specializing in the study of bacilli, the tiny organisms that cause disease. He was following up the work of Louis Pasteur (1822-95), the great French chemist.
Pasteur built up people’s resistance to diseases by the injection into their blood of vaccines, or collections of weakened germs, thus encouraging the production in the body of the germs’ natural enemies. Wright discovered that dead bacilli could also be used for vaccines, so eliminating the risk of the inoculation producing the disease in a virulent form.
As Professor of Experimental Pathology in the University of London, he was especially interested in the problems of typhoid fever, a contagious disease caused by contaminated food or water. The first effective vaccine for typhoid was introduced for military use in 1896. This made a significant improvement to the health of soldiers at war, who were more likely to be killed by typhoid than in combat at that time. This vaccine was further developed over the following years in London.
In the Crimean War more deaths had been caused among British troops by this disease than by enemy action. After trying out his vaccines on himself and fellow surgeons, Wright in 1896 initiated anti typhoid inoculation by injection with a vaccine composed of killed cultures of the typhoid germ, Bacillus typhosus. At the start of the South African War (1899-1902) Wright wanted all British troops to be inoculated. But bitter opposition from influential persons prevented more than 4 percent being treated. As a result there were 50,000 typhoid cases, 9,000 of them fatal.
An Anti-Typhoid Commission was set up, and its report in 1913 led to the official adoption of anti-typhoid inoculation by the British Army. Later came the introduction of a vaccine known as T.A.B., which gave combined immunity against typhoid and the related strains of paratyphoid A and paratyphoid B.
Throughout the 20th century, the incidence of typhoid fever steadily declined, which was due to the introduction of vaccinations and improvements in public sanitation and hygiene. In particular, the chlorination of drinking water made a significant impact on the number of individuals affected by the disease. Today, typhoid fever is considered a rare condition among developed countries, with an incidence rate of approximately five cases per million per year.