Each antibiotic is effective only against certain bacteria. In selecting an antibiotic to treat a person with an infection, doctors estimate which bacteria are likely to be the cause. For example, some infections are caused only by certain types of bacteria. If one antibiotic is predictably effective against all of these bacteria, further testing is not needed. If infections may be caused by many different types of bacteria or by bacteria that are not predictably susceptible to antibiotics, a laboratory is asked to identify the infecting bacteria from samples of blood, urine, or tissue taken from the person. The infecting bacteria are then tested for susceptibility to a variety of antibiotics. Results of these tests usually take a day or two and thus cannot guide the initial choice of antibiotic.
According to a 2013 report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on antibiotic-resistant threats, drug-resistant organisms in the American food supply pose “a serious threat” to public health and “should be phased out.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also warned that we are headed for a “post-antibiotic era” where we will see common infections turning deadly.
Large scale meat production is a primary breeding ground of drug-resistant bacteria, as low doses of antibiotics are routinely fed to livestock to promote growth and compensate for unsanitary living conditions.
Fruits and vegetables can also become contaminated with antibiotics if the farmer a) uses manure from treated cows as crop fertilizer, or b) applies an antibiotic pesticide.
Glyphosate, for example, is actually patented as an antibiotic, and effectively kills soil bacteria needed for nutrient uptake and plant health. Antibiotics are also part of other pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides.
Besides promoting antibiotic resistance, antibiotic …
Antibiotics that are effective in the laboratory do not necessarily work in an infected person. The effectiveness of the treatment depends on how well the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream, how much of the drug reaches the sites of infection in the body, and how quickly the body eliminates the drug. These factors may vary from person to person, depending on other drugs being taken, other disorders present, and the person's age. In selecting an antibiotic, doctors also consider the nature and seriousness of the infection, the drug's possible side effects, the possibility of allergies or other serious reactions to the drug, and the cost of the drug.
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