Questions for Superbugs: A silent health emergency


Before reading

1.    What might cause people to get sick?

2.    When you have been sick, what kinds of medicines have you been given? Have you ever been given an antibiotic? (Some antibiotics include penicillin, amoxicillin and erythromycin.)

During reading

1.    What is antibiotic resistance? Why are people worried about it?

2.    How can antibiotic-resistant germs travel from people out into the environment?

3.    Why is MRSA particularly nasty in hospitals and prisons?

4.    Why shouldn’t a person infected with a virus be treated with an antibiotic?

5.    What class of infectious germs causes most types of common cough?

6.    Why do farmers give antibiotics to healthy animals?

7.    Why would Kellogg Schwab call antibiotic use in healthy farm animals “a direct threat to human health”?

8.    What is a plasmid?

9.    The Food and Drug Administration wants to phase out growth promoting antibiotics for livestock in how many years?

After reading

1.    What might happen to a person who becomes sick with an antibiotic-resistant germ today? How might doctors treat that person?

2.    Could all germs become resistant to antibiotics? If that took place, what might happen to people who got sick with diseases caused by bacteria?


1.    When a child is sick, a parent may demand that a doctor prescribe an antibiotic, even though it may not help. With a partner, brainstorm ways to tell parents and doctors about the dangers of overprescribing antibiotics.