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Superbugs & Antibiotic Resistance (continued)


A Brief History of Antibiotics...

  • 1945: Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, warns that it is easy to produce resistance to his drug: simply expose bacteria to concentrations that are insufficient to kill them. (8)
  • 1951: First warning that antibiotics could produce drug-resistant bacteria in poultry. University of California researchers report streptoycin-resistant coliform bacteria in turkey poults given streptomycin as a growth-promoting supplement. (8)
  • 1986: Sweden bans the use of antibiotics in food animal production except for therapuetic purposes. Denmark follows in 1998. (20)
  • 2003: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization report the use of antibiotics in humans and animals place individuals at increased risk for infection, treatment failure, and severity of illness. (11)
  • 2005: The U.S. bans the use of fluoroquinolones in poultry, but other antibiotics and related drugs still used in food animals continue to pose a threat to human health. (11)

2006: The European Union bans the feeding of all antibiotics and related drugs to livestock for growth promotion purposes. The restrictions are specifically intended to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for human use. (3)
  • 2007: MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) found to spread from pigs to humans. (4)
  • Today: more people in the United States die from MRSA than from AIDS. (19) Known as a "superbug" because of its resistance to so many antibiotics, MRSA infection is a leading cause of potentially life-threatening bloodstream infections, surgical site infections and pneumonia.
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