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What Is Antibiotic Resistance?

Author: Karen Liu

Editor: Vincent Chang

Artists: Denise Suarez

Imagine showing up to the emergency room with infections, but every antibiotic the doctors administer has no use. The infection rapidly disperses throughout the hospital, spreading to patients and nurses until the whole hospital is infected. This terrifying situation is not just part of the imagination–it can happen as a result of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem worldwide especially with the rise of new technology. In the United States, 2.8 million people are infected with some sort of antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and over 35,000 of those people result in death.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs assigned to kill them. How does this happen? We can think about it in terms of natural selection. In a population, certain bacter