Antibiotics and Superbugs

Antibiotics are chemicals made by microbes, used to kill other microbes. Superbugs, or antibiotic-resistant bacteria, are created by the misuse or overuse of antibiotics. Superbugs can cause serious illness and have no cure if they are resistant to a broad spectrum of antibiotics. Superbugs have emerged as a major threat to public health because of the widespread use of antibiotics in the food supply and misuse in the medical field and because of the very nature of bacteria to evolve rapidly. This entry examines how an antibiotic works and how antibiotic resistance develops and explains some of the most common antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


An antibiotic is a selective poison that is designed to kill microbes—bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi—without causing major harm to the body. There ...

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