Antibiotics and the rise of the superbugs
£9.95 GBP, 2 hours

The discovery of antibiotics in the mid-20th century is arguably the greatest advance in health care of modern times. The ability to prevent or treat bacterial infections has contributed to declines in infant and child mortality, increased life expectancy and increased food production worldwide. Our faith in the effectiveness of antibiotics (alongside vaccination programmes) was such that, by the early 1960’s, leading scientists were confident infectious diseases were a problem solved.

The development of antibiotic resistance began with the introduction of the first antibiotics into clinical use. Increasing resistance, in combination with indiscriminate use and declining development of new antibiotics, have led to the emergence of superbugs—microbes with high levels of resistance that cause greater morbidity and mortality. Many authors are now suggesting that we are returning to the dark ages of the pre-antibiotic era – some calling it an apocalypse.

After completing this online activity and quiz, you should be able to:

  • Describe the structure and function of bacterial cells in relation to their classification, pathogenicity and antibiotic resistance.
  • Discuss underlying mechanisms in the development of infection.
  • Outline the antimicrobial actions of main classes of antibiotics.
  • Discuss mechanisms underlying the development of resistance in bacteria.
  • Outline the future of antimicrobial therapies.

The PDF article accompanying this learning activity first appeared in the November 2012 issue of Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand. This activity was updated November 2017.


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