What are Superbugs?

Like any other college student here, I caught the “Penn State Plague”. The first week of classes I woke up with a very sore throat and it drug on a couple days so I decided to finally go into the University Health Center. I believed I had another case of strep throat. The doctor swabbed my throat to check for strep, and sure enough it was positive. The doctor told me that I since I was allergic to Penicillin, he had to prescribe me Clindamycin. He had to prescribe me Clindamycin because the bacteria in the throat when you have strep is now immune to Amoxicillin. That made me think, is there a big problem with superbugs today?

What are superbugs?

Bacterial infections like strep throat are harder to treat when bacteria are able to survive the antibiotics. This happens because the bacteria carry certain genes that make them immune, and that immunity can be passed on through the bacteria. This is a very big problem because it can happen so rapidly. This rapid passing of antibacterial immunity creates what we know as a “Superbug”. According to C-Health, misusing or overusing antibiotics contributes to superbugs. A lot of people never end up taking all of the pills prescribed by their doctor because they believe they feel better. This is a major problem because every single time that someone does that, the drug becomes less and less effective.This resorts into more expensive and more difficult anti-bacterial medications like what happened to me. Instead of being able to use  Amoxicillin, which I believe is taken once a day, I had to be prescribed Clindamycin, which is two pills twice a day for ten days.  Antibiotics are sold over the counter in certain parts of the world which contribute to this problem because there are commonly misconceptions on if an individual even needs the drug or not. Also, many of the over the counter antibiotics do not have the proper recommendations for use, which help the bacteria service the medication. If you misuse antibiotics -such as taking the drug without needing it- harmless bacteria suffer because the antibiotics kill them. Not only that, but the medicine can also change the harmless bacteria, helping the actual harmful bacteria resist antibiotics.


The superbug experiment

An experiment done at Harvard Medical School shows the evolution of bacteria on a gigantic 2 feet by 4 feet petri dish. The bacteria are able to move along the petri dish, slowly making their way through different amounts of antibiotics in each section. The outer layer had no antibiotics so the e-coli bacteria traveled or spread until the next barrier with antibiotics where they then could not survive. The superbug begins to form when a mutation occurs. Each section going towards the middle of the petri dish becomes stronger and stronger with antibiotics until it is 1000 times stronger than what was needed to kill the first section of e-coli bacteria. Astonishingly, the bacteria slowly but surely makes its way to the middle of the petri dish due to these mutations that cause the bacteria to survive event the strongest situations.


How can you as an individual help stop superbugs from forming?

There are multiple ways that you as an individual can help stop the spread of superbugs.By doing these very important things, you are stopping the spread of immune bacteria in the body.


  • Make sure you take the entire course of the antibiotics
  • Do not pressure your doctor into a prescription you do not need
  • Never take antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription


Works Cited

Image 1 , 2

Cara, Ed. “The Scary Reality Of Antibiotic Resistance Captured In A Petri Dish.” Medical Daily. N.p., 14 Sept. 2016. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.

“The Rise Of Superbugs: How Antibiotic Resistance Develops And How You Can Help Stop It.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 26 Aug. 2015. Web. 18 Oct. 2016

“Superbugs: What Are They and How Are They Formed?” – Canoe.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.


2 thoughts on “What are Superbugs?

  1. Taylor M Stewart

    Wow! Very interesting, yet important post. This pertains directly to me because I also became very sick my first week at Penn State. I had the same symptoms as a common cold, which then became symptoms of a flu. I decided to stick it out and take over the counter medicines, drink tea, and a lot of fluids. It took for me to have a cough attack so bad, to the point of throwing up that I decided something was wrong. I checked myself into the Emergency Room at Nittany Medical Center, because I’m guessing everyone else that was sick had appointments at the Student Health Center. The interesting part is that it turned out I had Bronchitis, and was prescribes Amoxicillin. Reading your post makes me wonder if the antibiotic even worked, or were there other third, causal variables? It’s very interesting to explore, the fact that these bacteria can be immune to medicine.

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