Antibiotic Resistance: What is it and Why is it Important?

Antibiotics are medicines that can help make us better when we have become ill due to nasty diseases caused by bacteria such as TB (tuberculosis). So antibiotics are very important, and have saved countless lives all over the world.
Some bacteria have a special gene that means the antibiotic doesn’t kill them, these are known as resistant bacteria. These resistant bacteria spread because they have an advantage over bacteria without this special gene. Bacteria are also able to pass on these resistance genes to their friends, other bacteria.
The spread of these resistant bacteria means that there is a danger that antibiotics may no longer work in the future. If this happened, it would be very dangerous as there may no longer be any treatment for when people fall ill with these diseases.
Some new antibiotics are being discovered by scientists, but this is not happening fast enough to replace those antibiotics which no longer work.
Antibiotic resistance is a natural process and happened before we, as humans, started using antibiotics as medicines to treat people. This means that we cannot stop this from happening completely.
There are however lots of things that humans do to make the problem worse. For example, in many farms, all livestock are given antibiotics, even to animals that are completely healthy.
But there are some things that you can to help:
• If your doctor gives you antibiotics it is really important that you take all of them, even if you feel better and don’t think you need them.
• Never give any of your antibiotics to anyone else, even if they are your friends.
• Only use antibiotics if your doctor or other medical professional tells you that need them. Don’t buy them yourself. For example, antibiotics are completely useless for illnesses caused by viruses such as the common cold.
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