Public Health

Are we running out of antibiotics?

Nicole Allan of the Atlantic discusses why overuse of antibiotics is making them less effective.  The fact that antibiotics are less effective did not come as a surprise to many experts.  In fact, in 1945, “while accepting a Nobel Prize for discovering penicillin, Alexander Fleming warned of a future in which antibiotics had been used with abandon and bacteria had grown resistant to them.”  More recently, the director of the CDC stated that“If we’re not careful, we will soon be in a post-antibiotic era. In fact, for some patients and some microbes, we are already there.”

Overuse of antibiotics occurs due to:

  • Unnecessary use of antibiotics to combat viral, rather than bacterial, infections
  • Use of antibiotics in food. 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S. each year are given to animals in order to help them gain weight faster or use less food to gain weight.

Disease that were previously entirely treatable with antibiotics have now evolved to make the antibiotics partly or entirely ineffective. Drug-resistant tuberculosis killed 170,000 people in 2012.

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