Antibiotic Resistance Essay

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When antibiotics first began to see widespread American usage in the 1940’s, they were heralded as a miracle drug, a description that was not far from the mark considering the great number of debilitating or fatal illnesses that they could rapidly cure. In a time where bacterial diseases that today carry few serious health risks in healthy adults—such as strep throat, ear infections, syphilis, and wound infections—often led to serious debilitation or death, the invention of antibiotics was among the greatest single improvements in public health ever made. And today, more than three quarters of a century after Alexander Fleming discovered the antimicrobial properties of penicillin, antibiotics are as important as ever in maintaining a healthy population, from their ability to treat common infections to the safeguards they provide patients undergoing surgeries and other infection-prone procedures that could otherwise be too risky to perform. However, today many doctors and researchers are beginning to fear that this golden era of antibiotics may be coming to an end due to the ever-increasing threat of antibiotic resistance. There are a number of practices that contribute to increased antibiotic resistance, including the unnecessary prescription, improper dosage, and incorrect usage of antibiotic drugs by humans. But one of the major potential causes of antibiotic resistance does not involve human patients at all. Rather, many believe that the excessive use of antibiotics in food animals is among the leading threats to the future of human ability to fight bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance is a threat that has been theorized since the beginning of their medical uses. Even Alexander Fleming, the man considered to be the fath... ... middle of paper ... ...ter numbers, increasing the likelihood of a stronger secondary infection. And when this effect is spread to all of a livestock owner’s animals, rather than just those that are sick, it only increases the number of resistant infections. These infections do not just endanger other food animals, however, as the same bacteria that infect cows, pigs, poultry, and fish can also pose threats to humans, who can catch these diseases from direct contact with animals and through eating meat that has been contaminated with the resistant bacteria during processing. Because many of the same antibiotics are used in both animals and humans, a person becoming infected with bacteria that has become antibiotic resistant in livestock will face limited choices in treatment ("Antibiotic Debate Overview."). Thus, the misuse of antibiotics in animals has a direct negative effect on humans.

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