Fighting Superbugs

Are disease-resistant bacteria becoming unstoppable?


Antibiotics — the wonder drugs of the 20th century — are gradually losing their clout. Bacteria naturally develop resistance to antimicrobial drugs. In recent years, however, overuse of antibiotics has caused a growing number of staphylococcus bacteria to evolve into disease-causing “superbugs” resistant to drugs like methicillin. Hospital patients with MRSA — a potent antibiotic-resistant staph infection — are four times as likely to die as other patients. Moreover, while most superbugs once thrived only in hospitals, new strains outside health facilities are killing healthy people. Adding to the concerns of public-health officials, drug companies are developing few new antimicrobials. Some activists urge strong curbs on all antimicrobial use, including to promote fast growth in farm animals. Others oppose legal requirements for animal or human ...

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