The introduction of β-lactam antibiotics (penicillins and cephalosporins) in the 1940s and 1950s probably represents the most dramatic event in the battle against infection in human medicine. Even before widespread global use of penicillin, resistance was already recorded. E. coli producing a penicillinase was reported in Nature in 1940 (Abraham, 1940) and soon after a similar penicillinase was discovered in Staphylococcus aureus (Kirby, 1944). The appearance of these genes, so quickly after the discovery and before the widespread introduction of penicillin, clearly shows that the resistance genes pre-dated clinical use of the antibiotic itself
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