Can there be a world without antibiotics?


Medical experts around the globe are worried that more and more viruses and bacteria are becoming resistant to today’s medicine. They are afraid that in a few generations antibiotics may become useless. Scientists have already discovered bacteria that do not react if treated with antibiotics. As a result medical treatment will become more expensive as new drugs have to be developed.

Doctors and other health experts criticise the fact that antibiotics are being used in a wrong way. They are often prescribed in cases in which they do not work. In some areas, especially Third World countries and densely populated areas in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh doctors have already run out of antibiotics.
Prescribing wrong antibiotics or taking them for too short a time will not kill off bacteria. Some doctors prescribe antibiotics for the common flu, making it ineffective for later illnesses.

The World Health Organization claims that many infectious diseases are becoming untreatable and cannot be controlled. Many patients who become resistant to drugs even die.

Another problem is that farmers in the United States and Europe are adding antibiotics to feed cattle and other animals, in order to make them grow faster and produce more meat.




Through increased global travel bacteria are spreading faster than ever before.
Since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in the early 20th century antibiotics have saved hundreds of millions of lives.

Many operations cannot be carried out if we are unable to treat infections. The transplantation of organs can become very risky if patients do not get medication to strengthen their immune system. Routine operations like removing an appendix or replacing a bad hip could become fatal. Childbirth may once again threaten a woman’s life and raise child mortality. Even illnesses like pneumonia, which today can be treated effectively with antibiotics, might once again turn into a mass killer.

Antibiotics have made infections like tuberculosis treatable. Cancer treatment would be unthinkable without the proper treatment of the immune system to accompany it.

Health experts call for increased action to fight off diseases.  Most common is the call to improve hospital hygiene, where infectious diseases start out. Especially in Third World countries, bacteria spread through dirty water and the sewage system. Even making people aware of washing their hands more often can stop the spread of infectious diseases.


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  • accompany = go with
  • action = things that can help
  • add = put into
  • antibiotics = medicine that is used to kill off bacteria and cure diseases
  • appendix = small organ near your stomach that you do not need
  • aware = alert; to be awake
  • bacteria = very small living things that cause infections and diseases
  • call for = suggest, want to have
  • cancer = serious disease in which cells in your body start to grow in an uncontrollable way
  • case = here: illness
  • cattle = cows
  • century = a period of a hundred years
  • child mortality = the  number of babies that die as a percentage of all the babies born
  • childbirth = the act of having  baby
  • common = widespread
  • common flu = an illness that makes you feel tired and weak; you must cough and blow your nose, sometimes you get fever
  • densely populated = many people live in a small area
  • develop = create, make
  • discover = find for the first time
  • drugs = medicine
  • effective = successful, to work the way it should
  • especially = above all
  • fatal = deadly
  • feed = give food to
  • global = worldwide
  • globe = world
  • hip = one of the two parts on each side of your body between the top of your leg and your waist
  • immune system = system by which your body protects itself against a disease
  • increase = to go up
  • ineffective = something that does not work the way it should
  • infectious = a disease that can be transferred from one person to another
  • kill off = fight, destroy
  • medication = medicine
  • organ = part of the body
  • penicillin = type of medicine that is used to cure infections and kill bacteria
  • pneumonia = a serious illness that affects your lungs and makes it difficult for you to breathe
  • prescribe = to write down what kind of medicine a sick person should take
  • proper = real, good
  • raise = to go up
  • remove = take out
  • resistant = not damaged or affected by something
  • run out of = not have enough any more
  • scientist = person who works in a laboratory and is trained in science
  • sewage system = water pipes and canals that carry dirty water and waste away from your house
  • spread = to move from one place to another
  • strengthen = to make stronger
  • threaten = endanger
  • treat = to cure a disease
  • treatment = the curing of an illness or disease
  • tuberculosis = serious infection that affects many parts of your body especially your lungs
  • untreatable = cannot be cured with medicine
  • useless = not useful, not effective
  • virus = very small living thing that causes illnesses
  • World Health Organisation = international organisation which is part of the UN; it helps countries improve the health of the population by giving medicine and information to the people