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New antibiotics (substances that kill bacteria, that is, germs) are constantly being developed for good reason: After being used for decades (and misused or overused), some antibiotics are no longer effective against certain microbes (germs). In order to sustain the effectiveness of antibiotics, doctors should prescribe them only when they are necessary, not when patients demand them to treat viral infections (since antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses). It is also important that a person taking antibiotics complete the entire dosage, even if he or she already feels better, because any bacteria not yet killed by the antibiotic may survive to withstand the antibiotic later as a drug-resistant bacteria. Scientists also believe that by feeding antibiotics to animals that are used for food, we may be creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. By the 1990s, doctors began seeing antibiotic-resistant strains of such diseases as pneumonia, tuberculosis, streptococcus, and salmonella. The race is on to discover or create new antibiotics that can conquer these resistant microbes before epidemics again rage through the world as was the case before the advent of antibiotics.
Further Information: Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics. [Online] Available http://www. healthsci.tufts.edu/apua/apua.html, November 6, 2000; Elchisak, Mary Ann. Pharmacology. [Online] Available http://pharmacology.about.com/, November 6, 2000; Facklam, Margery and Howard Facklam. Healing Drugs. New York: Facts On File, 1992; Grady, Denise. "Infection Resistant to New Antibiotics." New York Times. November 4, 1999.
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