For about 50 years, antibiotics have been the answer to many bacterial infections. Antibiotics are chemical substances that are secreted by living things. Doctors prescribed these medicines to cure many diseases. During World War II, antibiotics were used to treat infected wounds. It was the beginning of the antibiotic era. But just when antibiotics were being mass produced, bacteria started to evolve and became resistant to these medicines. Antibiotic resistance can be the result of different things. One cause of resistance could be drug abuse. The more times a person uses the drug, the more it will decrease its effect on the bacteria. Another cause of resistance is the improper use of drugs. When patients feel that the symptoms of their disease have disappeared, they often stop taking the drug prematurely and the bacteria has a chance to revive. One antibiotic that will always have a long lasting effect is penicillin. This was the first antibiotic ever to be discovered. Alexander Fleming was the person responsible for the discovery in 1928. In his laboratory, he noticed that in some of his bacteria colonies, that he was growing, were some clear spots. He realized that something had killed the bacteria in these clear spots, and also noticed a fungus growth in that area. He then discovered that this mold contained a substance that killed bacteria and he called it penicillin. Penicillin became the most powerful germ-killer known at that time. Antibiotics kill disease-causing bacteria by interfering with their processes. Penicillin kills bacteria by attaching to their cell walls. Then it destroys part of the wall. The cell wall breaks apart and the bacteria dies. After four years, when drug companies started to mass produce penicillin, in 1943, the first signs of penicillin-resistant bacteria started to appear. The first bacteria that fought penicillin was called Staphylococcus aureus. This bug is usually harmless but can cause an illness such as pneumonia. In 1967, another penicillin-resistant bacteria formed. It was called pneumococcus and it broke out in a small village in Papua, New Guinea. Other penicillin resistant bacteria that formed are Enterococcus faecium and a new strain of gonorrhea. Antibiotic resistance can occur by a mutation of DNA in bacteria or DNA acquired from another bacteria that is drug-resistant through transformation. Penicillin-resistant bacteria can alter their cell walls so penicillin can not attach to it. The bacteria can also produce different enzymes that can take apart the antibiotic. Since antibiotics were so effective, all other strategies to fight bacterial diseases were put aside. Now since the effects of antibiotics are decreasing and antibiotic resistance is increasing, new research on how to battle bacteria is starting. Antibiotic resistance spreads fast but efforts are being made to slow it. Improving infection control, discovering new antibiotics, and taking drugs more appropriately are ways to prevent resistant bacteria from spreading. In developing nations, measures are being taken to control infections by identifying drug resistant infections and prevent diseases from spreading. The World Health Organization began a global computer program that reports any outbreaks of drug-resistant bacterial infections. In the early 1900's, the discovery of penicillin began the antibiotic era. People thought they had finally won the battle with bacteria. But now since antibiotic resistance is increasing rapidly, new strategies must be developed to destroy these microbes. Bibliography: Bylinsky, Gene. Sept. 5,1995. "The new fight against killer microbes". Fortune. p. 74-76. Dixon, Bernard. March 17,1995. "Return of the killer bugs". New Statesman & Society. p. 29-32. Levy, Stuart B. Jan. 15,1995. "Dawn of the post-antibiotic era?" Patient Care. p. 84-86. Lewis, Ricki. Sept. 1995. "The rise of antibiotic-resistant infections." FDA Consumer. p. 11-15. Miller, Julie Ann. June 1995. "Preparing for the postantibiotic era." BioScience. p. 384-392.