Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Autumn. Autumn Wonders, “What are superbugs?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Autumn!

Have you ever taken medicine to help you feel better? Most people have at one time or another. Cough syrup can help with some illnesses. Prescriptions are needed for others. Many products can go a long way toward getting you back to normal.

One type of medicine has made an especially big difference in the way we treat illness today. What are we talking about? Antibiotics, of course! It started with the discovery of penicillin in 1928. Since then, people have turned to these drugs to cure all sorts of sickness.

Most infections can be cured with several doses of this medicine. In recent years, though, doctors have seen a rise in sickness caused by superbugs. What are superbugs? They’re types of bacteria and fungi that are resistant to antibiotics.

How common are superbugs? The U.S. sees about two million cases each year. Many cause serious illnesses, like tuberculosis and staph infections. This has doctors and health groups worried.

Why are superbugs on the rise? Many experts point to the very medicines that fail to fight off the infectionsantibiotics. While they save many lives each year, they’re also commonly over-prescribed. These medicines are also given to many of the animals we eat.

Taking too many antibiotics can harm the good bacteria your body needs. This makes room for resistant bacteria and fungi to grow. These superbugs can reproduce quickly in the body. They’ll even spread to other people. This is especially common in hospitals, where many people’s immune systems are already exhausted. 

What happens when antibiotics can’t fight a superbug? Doctors are left with few options. Often, they will send samples to a lab to help identify the best treatment. The strong antibiotic formicamycin has been proven to fight off some superbugs. Today, scientists are able to make much more of this medicine thanks to CRISPR technology.

How can you avoid catching a superbug? Good hygiene habits, like washing your hands and cleaning wounds, go a long way. It’s also important to wash fresh foods before eating them. You should also make sure any meat you eat is cooked thoroughly. 

Of course, only use antibiotics when they’re necessary and prescribed by a doctor. It’s also important to finish a prescribed course of these medicines. Don’t just stop taking them when you feel better! Following these rules doesn’t guarantee safety from superbugs, but it can help bring down your risk.

No one wants to catch a superbug! They’re a serious threat to world health. If you’re worried you may have an infection, talk with a trusted adult about your symptoms. They’ll be able to help you decide whether you need to see a doctor.

Standards: NGSS.LS1.A, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.SL.1, CCCRA.SL.2

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