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Antibiotics are an incredibly useful class of drug. They have allowed us to eradicate many deadly types of infection, and to think it all started with a lab contamination accident in 1928; penicillin, the first antibiotic, was discovered when mold spores contaminated an E. Coli culture…and killed it rapidly: the mold produced penicillin. It caused the E. Coli cell walls to rupture and become irreparably damaged. Decades later, while we’ve made many advances, we have also created something deadly: antibiotic resistant bacteria.
When you take an antibiotic, it kills all of a certain kind of bacteria that it comes in contact with, through a specific mechanism that is unique to that bacteria. In this way, something fatal for the microbe is harmless to the human. However, bacteria reproduce very quickly, like billions of babies every day…
So eventually one line of offspring is bound to “evolve” and no longer require whatever mechanism gets disturbed by antibiotics. This means that the antibiotic no longer has any effect on that bacteria: it’s antibiotic-resistant.
In this way, we have killed all of the weak bacteria and left only the incredibly strong superbugs that were able to survive 50 years of hardcore antibiotic administration.
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