Antibiotics have widely been viewed to be one of the most significant discoveries in human history. They have helped billions of people survive potentially life-threatening diseases since their discovery, such as small pox, polio, and hundreds of others. It is a cause for some concern then, that we have seen an increasing level of antibiotic resistance among many strains of dangerous diseases.
Antibiotics resistance arises as a result of natural selection. Natural selection is a reproductive process which basically says that the organism which is more well adapted to its environment is more likely to survive and therefore will have greater opportunity to reproduce. Essentially, what we’ve seen, thanks to the little improvement in antibiotics since their initial discovery, is an arms race where antibiotics have stood still while bacteria quickly adapts.
There are clear risks involved in doing nothing, so various strategies to reduce the risk of anything bad happening have been proposed. Firstly, the agricultural sector has historically over-used antibiotics, and have a significant portion of the blame for our current situation; it has been proposed that action is taken to reduce their use in the sector. Secondly, doctors have been advised to greatly reduce the number of prescriptions they hand out to patients who don’t really need them. At the end of the day though, both of these are only delay tactics, and more final solutions need to be investigated before we can regain the security and reliability we had with antibiotics.