Antibiotics are the most common treatment for bacterial infections in humans, animals, and plants. Antibiotics are added to livestock feed to protect livestock from diseases. This allows for greater growth and production. Antibiotics are also often in the foods humans consume. Antibiotic sprays are commonly used in agriculture, especially for fruit trees. Many plastics today, such as those used in public hygiene stations for babies and children, have antimicrobial additives embedded within the materials. These additives reduce bacterial growth on the plastic’s surfaces.
With this widespread use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, they have become far less effective as medical treatments. This use has also contributed to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. For example, the treatment of tuberculosis requires an increasingly diverse cocktail of antibiotics as bacteria becomes more resistant to previously effective medications. Scientists are continually developing new therapies in a race to stay ahead of the evolution of new antibiotic-resistant pathogens. However, despite these precautions, multi-resistant bacteria continue to appear.
How might the population potentially suffer from emerging antibiotic-resistant bacteria? How might the overuse of antibiotics be addressed? How might we protect all species being treated by broad-spectrum antibiotics, while still protecting populations as a whole?