| FAQ

Antibiotics are strong medicines that can cure many bacterial illnesses and infections. The standard definition states that an antibiotic is a substance produced by microorganisms that kill or inhibit other microorganisms.

The first antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered in 1929 by Sir Alexander Fleming who observed the inhibition of staphylococci on a plate contaminated by a Penicillin mold.

By the mid 1940's antibiotics were available for treatment against many bacterial infections including strep throat, pneumonia, skin infections, wound infections, scarlet fever, toxic shock syndrome and other bacterial infections.

By the early 1950's the discovery and introduction of streptomycin, tetracycline and other antibiotics led to effective treatment of a vast array of formerly life-threatening infections, illnesses and diseases.

According to U.S. News Online, even back in the 40's, scientists knew that the more an antibiotic is used, the quicker it becomes useless. While most bacteria exposed to the drug are killed, the fittest survive and pass survival traits to their offspring. With continued use of the antibiotic, the resistant bugs proliferate. Bacteria that have become resistant to one antibiotic also seem to find it easier to build resistance to others.

Antibiotics are only effective in the treatment of bacterial infections. They have absolutely zero impact on viral infections.

How Antibiotics Work

Antibiotics work by either killing bacteria or by inhibiting growth.

Antibiotics don't have any impact on viruses such as colds, flu, bronchitis, or other viral infections. Only your doctor can determine if you have a viral or bacterial infection.

Each time we take antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant ones may be left to grow and multiply. Repeated use and improper use of antibiotics are some of the main causes of the increase in resistant bacteria.

Contributors to antibiotic resistance include:

  • Misuse and overuse of antibiotics in humans, animals, and agriculture
  • Demand for antibiotics when antibiotics are not called for
  • Failure to finish an antibiotic prescription

Availability of antibiotics in some countries without a prescription


In 1954, two millions pounds of antibiotics were produced in the United States. Today, that figure exceeds 50 million pounds.

Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics when they have been exposed to the antibiotic but have developed ways to fight and survive them. Then they simply multiply and begin to cause symptoms. Resistant bacteria can be transmitted to others and they too will become ill with antibiotic resistant strains.

In hospitals, 190 million doses are administered each day. Among non-hospitalized patients, more than 133 million courses of antibiotics are prescribed by doctors each year. It is estimated that 50% of these latter prescriptions are unnecessary since they are being prescribed for colds, coughs and other viral infections.

The unnecessary use, the misuse and the abuse of antibiotics as led to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria strains.

"The evidence is everywhere," says U.S. News Online, "Bostonians carry resistant E. coli in their guts; a Vermont high-school wrestling team is infected with resistant Staphyloccoccus aureus; multidrug-resistant salmonella infects farmers and their cows; an outbreak of resistant tuberculosis sweeps through a California high school." Recent studies conducted by the Center for Disease Control, found that 25% of the people sampled had pneumococcal infections & endash; pneumonia, meningitis, ear infections & endash; resistant to penicillin, which was once nearly infallible in killing the germs.  Among children under age 6, more than 40 percent had infections resistant to penicillin.

According to Dr. Jack Dillenberg, Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, "This super bacteria explosion is a public health crisis of the first order. If left unchecked, we face potentially devastating consequences including widespread sickness and death from once-curable diseases." Smart use of antibiotics is the key to decreasing, or even reversing, the spread of resistance.



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