The Evolutionary Change of Antibiotic/Antimicrobial Usage in the Treatment of Diseases in the History of Medicine

Published: 2021-08-11 18:43:24
650 words
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Sewanee University of the South
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The antimicrobials are one of the successful forms of chemotherapy in medical history. Many lives have been saved, and they have contributed to the control of infectious diseases, which were the forefront causes of human mortality and mobility.

The first trace of antibiotics was in 350-550 CE through the introduction of tetracycline that is still used up to date. It was found in the skeleton of a Sudanese Nubian (Aminov, 2010). According to researchers, the ancient Nubians brew tetracycline in the beers or incorporating it in their diets for an extended period since the compound was embedded in their bones and diseases were low in the population. Other discoveries include anecdotes and Artemisia. Anecdotes give insights on the use of the different ancient antibiotics. Artemisia was discovered as a potent anti-malarial drug extracted from Artemisia plants in the 1970s (Chambers & DeLeo, 2009). Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was also used as a remedy for many diseases, and it has contributed to the accumulation of resistance (antibiotics) genes in the human population. Additionally, TCM was also used in the ancient Chinese medicine, and the herbalists used moldy bread to help in preventing wounds infection.

Alexander Fleming who is a Scottish biologist discovered penicillin. The discovery was by accident as he left uncovered petri dish of a bacteria known as staphylococcus near a window in the lab (Aminov, 2010). In the morning, he discovered that mold growth inhabited the bacteria. Penicillin comes from a kind of fungi known as penicillin Rubens. Since the discovery, penicillin was widely used in treating the allied troops who fought in Europe in World War II (Podolsky, 2006). Fleming also cautioned people on the potential resistance to penicillin when it is used a little or for a short time during treatment. The other antimicrobials that were discovered include prontosil and salvarsan. Other researchers who found new antibiotics in which some are delivered to the bedside of patients followed the path. Most of the discoveries were made from 1950 to1970, and no discoveries have been made since then.

The impacts of not treating a microbial infection correctly

Antibiotics have played an essential role in managing bacterial infections. Not correctly treating a microbial infection increases the number of the drug-resistant germs (Davies & Davies, 2010). A bacterium, which survives the treatment of antibiotic, can pass and multiply its resistant properties. Additionally, some bacteria may transmit their drug resistance elements to other bacteria, and this may affect the body (Gladwin & Trattler, 2011). The issue of bacteria developing resistance to a drug is expected, and it is normal. However, the way in which drugs are used influences the extent to which drug resistance occurs.

Prevention methods using antibiotics/antimicrobials

One of the prevention methods, which use antibiotics/antimicrobials, is only taking the antibiotics that are prescribed. For example, when ones is sick, and there are no antibiotics, one should not take any antibiotics to prevent the disease. Additionally, the leftover antibiotics should not be shared. Another prevention method is documenting duration, indication, and duration of every antibiotic prescription. In most cases, individuals usually forget the period of their dose, and they may stop taking antibiotics after feeling well. The last prevention method is practicing antibiotic stewardship. This prevention method involves the use of procalcitonin level for infection to prevent antibiotic use. For example, most of the people do not know the use of antibiotics. This step will help in creating awareness.


Aminov, R. I. (2010). A brief history of the antibiotic era: lessons learned and challenges for the future. Frontiers in Microbiology, 1.Chambers, H. F., & DeLeo, F. R. (2009). Waves of resistance: Staphylococcus aureus in the antibiotic era. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 7(9), 629-641.

Davies, J., & Davies, D. (2010). Origins and evolution of antibiotic resistance. Microbiology and molecular biology reviews, 74(3), 417-433.

Gladwin, M., & Trattler, B. (2011). Clinical microbiology made ridiculously simple. Miami: MedMaster.Podolsky, S. H. (2006). Pneumonia before antibiotics: Therapeutic evolution and evaluation in twentieth-century America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.


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