Antibiotics in the environment

publication · 10 years ago
by Klaus K├╝mmerer (University Medical Center Freiburg)
Antibiotics are among the most important groups of pharmaceuticals used. Antimicrobial drugs can be used for either prophylaxis (prevention) or treatment of disease caused by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. The term antibiotic stands often for drugs that combat any of these microorganisms. In this chapter the term "antibiotic" refers only to drugs that kill or inhibit bacteria. Antibiotics that are sufficiently nontoxic to the host are used as chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment of infectious diseases of humans, animals and plants. They are used extensively in human and veterinary medicine as well as in aquaculture for the purpose of preventing or treating microbial infections, while in livestock farming they are used to promote the growth of animals. Some antibiotics are also used in growing fruit and in bee keeping. The classic definition of an antibiotic is a compound produced by a microorganism that inhibits the growth of another microorganism. Over the years, this definition has been expanded to include synthetic and semi-synthetic products. Antibiotics are grouped based on chemical structure or the mechanism of inhibition of microorganism.
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