advertisement
17 November 2009

When were antibiotics first used?

The concept of using chemicals to kill bacteria (and thus treat infections) has been around for centuries.

0

The concept of using chemicals to kill bacteria (and thus treat infections) has been around for centuries.

Malaria was treated with the bark of the cinchona tree (the precursor to quinine), and syphilis was treated with various heavy metals such as mercury and bismuth.

The first of the “modern day” antibiotics were sulphur containing compounds – the first sulphur containing drug, prontosil rubrum, was used to treat human infection in 1935.

Penicillin was discovered in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming, when he noticed that some bacteria that he was cultivating would not grown if a certain fungus was nearby.

This fungus was called Penicillium, and the substance elaborated by the fungus was the precursor to penicillin.

However, it was not until 1940 that penicillin was purified, and used as an antibiotic. Its availability in the latter stages of World War II saved the lives of numerous soldiers.

 
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Coffee and wine for the win! »

Could heartburn drugs upset your 'good' gut bacteria? Life is a gut reaction

Good news! Coffee & wine may promote a healthy gut

Diverse bacteria help your gut stay healthy. Here's how what you eat and drink can help or harm that balance - and it's not all bad news.

I gave hubby HIV »

Giving babies antibodies promptly may eliminate HIV Vaginal ring to prevent HIV on the cards

I gave my husband HIV and watched him die

Stephanie van Niekerk unwittingly infected her husband with HIV and ended up having to watch him wither and die in front of her very eyes. This is Stephanie's story in her own words.