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But it is still a major scourge in low- and middle income countries claiming the lives of more than a million people every year. Again in the year , diarrhea and other gastrointestinal infections had dropped from the third most common cause of death in the USA in to causing 30, deaths. By the mids, diarrhea had disappeared from the top 10 list. Thanks to antibiotics and access to clean water and sanitation, the amount of infections has decreased dramatically even after that. At the same time, low and middle income countries still struggle access to clean water and sanitation, and diarrheal diseases are way too common causes for antibiotic use.

The discovery of penicillin

Wounds can become infected and require antibiotic treatment. Sometimes even the smallest wounds caused by for example by stepping on a sharp stone or getting stung by a wasp are enough to cause a life-threatening infection. In low income countries, getting pregnant and having a child might be the two of the most dangerous things that a woman can do.

Advances in hospital hygiene and sterile techniques have brought down the risk of surgical site infections in high income countries, but the risk is not completely eliminated.

Penicillin: Discovery, Benefits and Resistance

Surgery still relies heavily on the existence of antibiotics, especially when implanting a foreign body, like a shunt or a prosthetic heart valve. In lower income countries and crisis zones, these risks are often not possible to mitigate and antibiotics are a crucial component of all surgical care. Without antibiotics, many surgeries would be deeply unethical to perform.

Intensive care units are the largest users of antibiotics in hospitals. The patients have often suffered traumas or burns that result in infections.

ß-Lactams: Mechanisms of Action and Resistance

Most of the antibiotic classes we use as medicines today were discovered and introduced to the market. Each class typically contains several antibiotics that have been discovered over time or are modified versions of previous types.

Today, there are very few novel antibiotics under development. At the same time antibiotic resistant bacteria that survives antibiotic treatment are becoming more and more common, making available antibiotics ineffective.


Thus, we are inevitably facing a major health problem. Read more about the problems with antibiotic discovery and development under How did we end up here?

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Share the article. However, it took over a decade before penicillin was introduced as a treatment for bacterial infections s: The first commercially available antibacterial was Prontosil, a sulfonamide developed by the German biochemist Gerhard Domagk. Lack of new antibiotics Today, there are very few novel antibiotics under development.

What if Fleming had not discovered penicillin? - ScienceDirect

Selected Resources Resource Description Antimicrobial resistance learning site — Historical perspectives Course website. An historical overview of the treatment of bacterial diseases, from ancient times to the pre-antibiotic era, onwards to the discovery and development of antibiotics. More from "Antibiotics" How do antibiotics work? History of antibiotic development.