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Antibiotics have played a major role in our society thanks to Sir Alexander Flemings careful observations in 1928 Without it many lives would be in danger due to infectious diseases Antibiotics are chemical substances produced by various species of microorganisms and other living systems that are capable in small concentrations of inhibiting the growth of or killing bacteria and other microorganisms These organisms can be bacteria viruses fungi or animals called protozoa A particular group of these agents is made up of drugs called antibiotics from the Greek word anti against and bios life Some antibiotics are produced from living organisms such as bacteria fungi and molds Others are wholly or in part synthetic - that is produced artificially Penicillin is perhaps the best known antibiotic Its discovery and later development is among mankinds greatest achievements Antibiotics have enabled the medical profession to treat effectively many infectious diseases including some that were once life-threatening How Antibiotics Work Antibiotics can be bacteriostatic bacteria stopped from multiplying or bactericidal bacteria killed To perform either of these functions antibiotics must be brought into contact with the bacteria It is believed that antibiotics interfere with the surface of bacteria cells causing a change in their ability to reproduce Testing the action of an antibiotic in the laboratory shows how much exposure to the drug is necessary to halt reproduction or to kill the bacteria Although a large amount of an antibiotic taken at one time might kill the bacteria causing an illness such a dose usually would make the person suffer from illness caused by the drug Therefore antibiotics are given in a series of smaller amounts This assures that the bacteria are either killed or reduced enough in numbers so that the body can repel them When too little antibiotic is taken bacteria can often develop methods to protect themselves against it The next time the antibiotic is needed against these bacteria it
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