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Antimicrobials are natural or synthetic drugs which inhibit or kill bacteria. this capability makes them unique for the control of deadly infectious diseases caused by a large variety of pathogenic bacteria.
Today, more than 15 different classes of antimicrobials are known. They differ in chemical structure and mechanism of action. Specific antimicrobials are necessary for the treatment of specific pathogens.
Following their 20th century triumph in human medicine, antimicrobials have also been used increasingly for the treatment of bacterial disease in animals, fish and plants. In addition, they became an important element of intense animal husbandry because of their observed growth-enhancing effect, when added in sub-therapeutic doses to animal feed. Antimicrobials are also used in industry, e.g. to eliminate bacterial growth on the inside of oil pipelines.
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This article was published in WHO
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