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What reporters need to know about antibiotic resistance

First introduced to the public in 1944, antibiotics – drugs that kill harmful bacteria – have all but eliminated the threat of diseases that once killed millions. But overuse of these drugs in people and animal farming has resulted in the breeding of “superbugs,” germs that are resistant to most or all existing antibiotics.

As of 2013, at least 2 million people in the U.S. had contracted an antibiotic-resistance bacterium, with 23,000 dying annually as a result, according to estimates based on the most recent data available to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The threat has become so dire, CDC officials have said, that for some patients the medical community has reached a “post-antibiotic” era.

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