Antibiotics vs. bacteria: evolution and resistance illustration

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): a government agency that works to protect people from disease-related threats to health, safety, and security in the United States....more

Multi-drug resistant: when a harmful organism, such as certain bacteria, has become resistant to multiple antibiotics.

How Dangerous are Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria?

There are many bacteria strains that have resistance, but one of the most dangerous is called Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR TB). Tuberculosis (TB) are bacteria that lodge themselves in an individual’s lungs. As the immune system tries many things to remove the bacteria, parts of the body get damaged in the process. The longer TB is present, the longer the immune system will wage war inside the body.

Tuberculosis in lungs

In some cases of tuberculosis, deposits of calcium minerals occur in healing tissue, scarring the lungs and reducing how well the lungs work. Image by Yale Rosen.

Therefore, doctors prescribe antibiotics to help get rid of the TB as soon as possible. When a person catches MDR TB, it is especially dangerous. MDR TB is resistant to many of the doctors’ most effective drugs, and so it can survive for longer periods of time in the body. As time wears on, an infected individual will slowly decline in health because their immune system continues to attack the bacteria, hurting the individual in the process.

Antibiotic Resistance in the United States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 2 million people contract an antibiotic-resistant bacterial disease per year. Out of this number, at least 23,000 people die each year from their infections. In total, every year the U.S. loses anywhere from 20-35 billion dollars to these pesky bacteria. With all that money, we could buy every single person in the world 2 big chocolate bars!

Additional images via Wikimedia Commons. Mycobacterium image by NIAID.

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Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Dangers of Antibiotic Resistance
  • Author(s): Tyler Quigley
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: July 10, 2017
  • Date accessed: March 18, 2023
  • Link:

APA Style

Tyler Quigley. (2017, July 10). Dangers of Antibiotic Resistance. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved March 18, 2023 from

American Psychological Association. For more info, see

Chicago Manual of Style

Tyler Quigley. "Dangers of Antibiotic Resistance". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 10 July, 2017.

MLA 2017 Style

Tyler Quigley. "Dangers of Antibiotic Resistance". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 10 Jul 2017. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 18 Mar 2023.

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see

Tuberculosis is a dangerous disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis that affects the lungs and other parts of the body. Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is a strain of this bacteria that has evolved resistance to several different antibiotics.

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