Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Understanding antibiotic resistance
Understanding antibiotic resistance

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

4.2 Superbugs

An increasing and serious concern is that the more antibiotics are used, the greater the likelihood that bacteria develop resistance to multiple antibiotics and so become even more difficult to treat.

Watch this short BBC video about the rise of superbugs and then read an excerpt from the accompanying BBC article.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 4
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Show transcript|Hide transcript
Video 4 What is a superbug?
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Accompanying article: Article 2 Bacteria that resist ‘last antibiotic’ found in UK. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a list of antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens for which alternative treatments are urgently required. Five of the bacteria featured in Activity 2 are on the list (see Table 2). The sixth – M. tuberculosis – continues to be a serious health threat but was not included on the WHO list for operational reasons.

Table 2 WHO ‘priority pathogens’ in 2017
BacteriumAntibiotic resistancePriority rating
K. pneumoniaemulti-drug



E. colimulti-drug
S. aureusmethicillin, vancomycin



N. gonorrhoeaecephalosporins, fluoroquinolones
S. pneumoniaepenicillinmedium

In the next section you will find out about a particular class of antibiotics.