noun. A strain or type of bacterium that has become resistant to the majority of current antibiotics is called a superbug.


“The threat of superbugs comes from the overuse of antibiotics by humans.’


“To save yourself from superbug infections, wash your hands regularly.”


 “Superbugs could render even the most routine procedures deadly.”


“If we don't act now, superbugs will kill us before climate change does.”

Learning point

The rise of superbugs


The word ‘Superbug’ was first used in the popular press sometime after 1970 to describe pollution-eating germs.[3] Superbug now describes bacteria that have evolved to resist many types of antibiotics, making them difficult to treat.


The media can reflect the public’s view and attitudes.[4] In 1996 in the UK, BBC Panorama made a program on drug resistance called “superbugs” about the emergence of vancomycin (a type of antibiotic) resistance in Enterococcus bacteria. This movie led to close monitoring of media use of the word "superbugs". 


Later, in 2005, in the UK, superbugs, especially MRSA (methicillin or multi-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) became a big debate between the two main political parties during the UK General Election.[4] Although there was much news and media coverage about MRSA, interested readers were often confused about the cause of the MRSA problem and what they could do about it.


It is now critical for people to know how to combat the problem of “superbugs”.


Check out these videos about superbugs: 

Rise of Superbugs
Rise of the superbugs- Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria: Dr. Karl Klose at TEDxSanAntonio



1 Nuki, P., & Gulland, A. (2018, May 22). Superbugs: Millions will die if we don't tackle antibiotic resistance. Retrieved from

2 Armstrong, S. (2017, November 04). If we don't act now, superbugs will kill us before climate change does. Retrieved from

3 Mosher, D. (2012, December 29). What is a Superbug? Retrieved from

4 Reynolds, L. A., & Tansey, E. M. (2008). Superbugs and Superdrugs: A History of MRSA (Vol. 32, Wellcome Witness to Twentieth Century Medicine). Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL. ISBN 978 085484 114 1

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