Antibiotics are powerful medicines that fight bacterial infections. Used properly, antibiotics can save lives. They either kill bacteria or keep them from reproducing. Your body's natural defenses can usually take it from there.
Antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses, such as
•Most coughs and bronchitis
•Sore throats, unless caused by strep
If a virus is making you sick, taking antibiotics may do more harm than good. Each time you take antibiotics, you increase the chances that bacteria in your body will be able to resist them. Later, you could get or spread an infection that those antibiotics cannot cure. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) causes infections that are resistant to several common antibiotics.
When you take antibiotics, follow the directions carefully. It is important to finish your medicine even if you feel better. If you stop treatment too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you. Do not save antibiotics for later or use someone else's prescription.
•Louis Pasteur unknowingly described the first antibiotic in 1877 when he observed that certain bacteria release substances that kill other bacteria
•In 1909, Paul Ehrlich discovered arsphenamine (Salvarsan), an arsenic compound that kills Treponema palladium, the bacterium causing the sexually transmitted disease, syphilis.
•In 1928 Alexander Fleming discovered that a mold inhibited the growth of staphylococcal bacteria and named the substance it produced "penicillin" (possibly Pasteur's unknown substance).
•It was not until 1940 that Howard Florey and Ernst Chain isolated the active ingredient in Fleming's mold.
•With wide-scale production of penicillin, the use of antibiotics increased, leading to an average eight-year increase in human life span between 1944 and 1972. Unfortunately, many bacterial species continued to survive penicillin treatment due to their resistance mechanisms.
Source: Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services