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Antibiotics F.A.Q.

What is an antibiotic?
An antibiotic is a type of drug that kills or stops the growth of bacteria. Examples include penicillin and ciprofloxacin, and there are many others.

What does "susceptible" mean when it comes to antibiotics?
The term "susceptible" means that the antibiotic can kill the bacteria or stop its growth. For example, when we say that a type of bacteria is susceptible to the antibiotic penicillin, it means that penicillin kills or stops the growth of that bacteria.

What is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to resist the effects of an antibiotic—that is, the bacteria are not killed, and their growth is not stopped.

Resistant bacteria survive exposure to the antibiotic and continue to multiply in the body, potentially causing more harm and spreading to other animals or people.

How do resistant bacteria in food animals end up in our food?
All animals carry bacteria in their intestines. Giving antibiotics to animals will kill most bacteria, but resistant bacteria can survive and multiply.
When food animals are slaughtered and processed, these bacteria can contaminate the meat or other animal products.
These bacteria can also get into the environment when an animal poops and may spread to produce that is irrigated with contaminated water.

Food can get contaminated whether the bacteria are resistant to antibiotics or not.

How do people get infections with resistant bacteria from animals?
People can get exposed to resistant bacteria from animals when they:
Handle or eat meat or produce contaminated with resistant bacteria; or
Come into contact with the animals’ poop (either directly or when it’s on a surface).

What effects do resistant infections have on people?
Some resistant infections cause severe illness.
People with these infections:
May require increased recovery time;
Tend to incur increased medical expenses; and/or
May die from infection.

What are some other consequences of antibiotic resistance?
Sometimes the bacteria that cause infections are resistant to the drug of choice and this drug doesn’t work. Physicians must then recommend second- or third-choice drugs for treatment, but these drugs might be less effective, more toxic, and more expensive. Preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics is vital to protecting human and animal health.

 

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