Why Do Viruses Cause Illness?

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Some of the most common illnesses are not actually bacterial infections, but are caused by viruses on which antibiotics have no effect (Novitt-Moreno; Monroe). Viruses such as the ones that cause illnesses like the common cold and flu are a completely different type of organism and are unsusceptible to antibiotic treatment (Kent). When antibiotics are used to treat non-bacterial illnesses, the bacteria present in the body are exposed and have a chance to develop a resistance to that antibiotic (Novitt-Moreno). The fewer times bacteria are exposed to an antibiotic, the less resistance they will build, and antibiotics will be more effective in treating illnesses in the future.
Rising numbers of antibiotic-resistant bacterial illnesses show that
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Antibiotics are used more than necessary and often inadequately. In What’s Going Around: Too Many Antibiotics, Johnson stated, “Doctors may be prescribing antibiotics out of uncertainty, or what they perceive as a patient’s expectation of it.” If a doctor is unsure exactly what an illness is or what it is caused by, he or she may prescribe low doses of antibiotics just in case. Doctors see it as a liability to wait to find out the nature of the illness because, if it is bacterial, the infection could get out of hand (“Putting the Brakes on Antibiotic Overuse”). The problem with this precautionary approach is that prescribing a weak antibiotic does not destroy all of the bacteria and leaves only the strongest to develop resistance. Taking antibiotics without a prescription or not finishing a treatment can lead to increased resistance as well (Webb; …show more content…
Eliminating systematic antibiotic use in agriculture would reduce the growth of resistant bacteria in animals. While some may argue that this approach would just cause more illness and require more antibiotics, studies show that in areas where this policy has been implemented, overall use of antibiotics has decreased greatly (Webb). This shows that much of the continual use is actually unnecessary and should be addressed. When discussing changes in farming practices to steer away from crowded livestock yards to more traditional farming styles, Webb points to a comment made by Sherwood Gorbach, a doctor who is investigating the impacts of antibiotic resistance, that “...cleaner environments for the animals translates into less need for antibiotics.” If the animals are allowed to have more space and air, many illnesses could be

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