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Our Infections category contains a wide range of oral antibiotics that can be used to treat bacterial infections; also medications for viral and fungal infections. Some medications are also available as creams, gels, eye drops and shampoos for topical infections.

The different classes of infections medication are listed on the left of the page and when you click on one of these, the principal brand name products display in the left column and generic alternatives to the right.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. acyclovir or the product name, e.g. Zovirax

Our antibiotics class of Infections medications are used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections and are available as oral and topical anti-bacterial treatments, including tablets, creams, gels and eye drops for systemic or topical bacterial infection.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. amoxycillin or the product name, e.g. Alphamox

Types of bacterial infection

Examples of bacteria that cause infections and illness include:
  • Streptococcus, a common cause of a sore throat, known as strep throat; and respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis, pharyngitis sinusitis and tonsillitis; also otitis medis (ear infection); scarlet fever; some serious skin infections like impetigo (superficial skin infection causing sores); the eye infection conjunctivitis. Group B Streptococcus causes meningitis.

  • Staphylococcus usually causes skin infections like as furuncules (boils), abscesses, cellulitis (infected area of skin causing inflammation), impetigo (superficial skin infection causing sores); also osteomyelitis (infection of bone), pneumonia and the eye infection conjunctivitis.

  • Escherichia coli (commonly known as E. coli), which normally lives in the intestines without causing harm, however, some strains cause gastroenteritis with diarrhoea and vomiting; also urinary tract infections, peritonitis and prostatitis in men.

  • Chlamydia causes sexually transmitted diseases like urethritis, which is symptom free but can cause damage to female reproductive organs if not treated, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (infection and inflammation of uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries). Chlamydia also causes eye infections like conjunctivitis and trachoma.

  • Helicobacter pylori is associated with stomach ulcers.

  • Haemophilus causes meningitis in babies (Haemophilus influenzae type B); also pneumonia and the eye infection conjunctivitis.

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae also known as gonococcus causes the sexually transmitted diseases gonorrhoea.

  • Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) causes opportunistic infection (bacteria that lie dormant until activated by low immunity) following HIV infection.

  • Actinobacilus is one of several types of bacteria that normally live in the mouth but also cause tooth and gum diseases like a abscess and inflammation of the gum (gingivitis) or tooth (periodonitis) .

  • Meningococcus causes meningitis, which is inflammation of the meninges that are the linings surrounding the brain.

  • Propionibacterium acnes is a bacteria that normally lives in the sebaceous glands (oil producing glands) of the skin, but when a pore becomes blocked as happens when acne develops, the bacteria can overgrow and cause infected acne.

Types of antibiotics

Commonly used antibiotics include:
  • Penicillins like Amoxycillin are broad-spectrum antibiotics that target the bacterial call wall and belong to the beta lactam group of antibiotics. They contain a structure called the beta lactam ring, which is readily attacked by the bacterial enzyme beta-lactamase and can result in resistant bacteria, such as some staphylococci. Amoxycillin is often used in combination with clavulanic acid, an antibiotic structurally related to the penicillins but is able to inactivate a wide range of beta-lactamase enzymes, which helps prevent resistance and also broadens the range of use for amoxicillin. Flucloxacillin is a narrow range penicillin-like antibiotic that is stable to the action of beta-lactamase. Phenoxymethyl penicillin is a form of penicillin that is better absorbed in the intestines and can be used when higher concentrations are needed.

  • Cephalosporins like Cephalexin are broad spectrum antibiotics that target the bacterial cell wall and are a sub-group of the beta lactams but are less susceptible to destruction by beta-lactamase.

  • Macrolides like Erythromycin, Clarithromycin and Azithromycin are broad spectrum antibiotics that target bacterial protein synthesis and are used to treat a variety of mild to moderate infections. They are often used for those allergic to penicillin antibiotics and to prevent opportunistic infection (bacteria that lie dormant until activated by low immunity) with Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare complex (MAC) in people with HIV. Clarithromycin is used as part of a combination therapy with an acid lowering medication like omeprazole, to treat gastric ulcers that are caused by infection of the stomach with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.

  • Lincosamides like Clindamycin target protein synthesis and are used for oral treatment of a wide range of infections. Clindamycin is also used as a topical treatment for acne that becomes infected with Propionibacterium acnes bacteria.

  • Tetracyclines like Doxycycline and Minocycline target protein synthesis and are broad-spectrum antibiotics that are used primarily for respiratory tract infections like pneumonia and bronchitis; urinary tract infections; sexually transmitted diseases and for oral treatment of skin infections including infected acne.

  • Trimethoprim is a synthetic antibiotic that targets an essential bacterial enzyme and is used specifically for urinary tract infections, like cystitis. It is also used in combination with other antibiotics to treat other infections when a single antibiotic has not eliminated the infection, including respiratory tract, genital tract and gastrointestinal infections.

  • Sulphonamides like sulfamethoxazole block an important bacterial metabolic process. Sulfamethoxazole is used in combination with Trimethoprim, a combination known as cotrimoxazole, for infections that have not responded to a single antibiotic.

  • Fluoroquinolones like ciprofloxacin and moxifloxacin target essential bacterial enzymes and are used for serious infections and those that have not responded to treatment using other antibiotics, including pneumonia, Legionnaire's disease acute sinusitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, prostatitis, peritonitis, complicated skin infections and bacteremia (bacteria in the blood circulation). They are also used for infections where antibiotic resistance causes problems with treatment.

  • Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic that damages bacterial DNA and is specifically used for urinary infections like cystitis and prostatitis.

Antibacterial and antiprotozoal medications

Metronidazole is an antibacterial and antiprotozoal medication, which means that it can be used to treat infections caused by certain bacteria and protozoan (single-cell organisms) parasites. Metronidazole works by damaging bacterial and protozoal DNA and some important enzymes. It is used to treat severe infections like septicemia, bacteremia, peritonitis, osteomyelitis, pelvic cellulitis; also teeth and gum infections. Protozoan illnesses that respond to treatment with Metronidazole include amoebiasis or dysentery caused by Entamoeba histolytica; giardiasis caused by Giardia lamblia, with symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps; and urogenital trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease of the vagina caused by Trichomonas vaginalis.

Topical use of Metronidazole as a cream or gel helps with the treatment of rosacea an inflammatory skin condition, although its mechanism of action in reducing inflammatory lesions is not known.

Topical antibiotics

Mupirocin is a topical antibiotic used for skin infections like impetigo, folliculitis (infected hair follicles) and furunculosis (boils), also for skin that becomes infected due to skin damage from eczema, psoriasis ulcers, minor burns, cuts, grazes and insect bites. It is applied as an ointment to infected areas.

Chloramphenicol and fusidic acid are used for bacterial eye infections like conjunctivitis, blepharitis (infection of the eyelid) and stye of the eye (infection at the base of the eyelash), and it is applied as eye drops.

Clindamycin is used as a topical treatment for acne that becomes infected with Propionibacterium acnes bacteria and is applied as a gel to infected areas.

Other medications

Probenecid is not an antibiotic but is used to improve the effectiveness of penicillin antibiotics by prolonging the length of time the antibiotic remains in the blood before it is excreted into the urine.

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Our antifungal Anti-Fungal class of Infections medications are used to treat fungal infections like tinea and thrush caused by most susceptible fungi. Our range of antifungals includes oral and topical treatments as tablets, creams, and gels.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. miconazole or the product name, e.g. Daktarin.

Types of fungal infection

Examples of common fungal infections include:
  • Tinea, a dermatophyte fungus that lives on human skin and promotes a reaction as it grows through the skin by small filaments called hyphae, causing symptoms including, inflammation, itching and rash, which can become severe. Tinea can infect many parts of the body causing infections like athlete's foot (tinea pedis), ringworm or tinea of the body (tinea corporis), tinea of the groin or jock itch (tinea cruris) and tinea of the scalp (tinea capitis).

  • Candida, a yeast that normally inhabits the gastrointestinal tract but when immunity is low or following a course of antibiotics, it can become overgrown and cause an infection called candidiasis or thrush. Areas infected by Candida include mucous membranes usually in the mouth, throat and genitals; Candida can also infect the skin and if the infection becomes systemic this can be more serious.

  • Infections of the finger nails and toe nails (onychomycosis) can be caused by Tinea or Candida, also by moulds, which are a different type of fungus.

  • Malassezia, a yeast normally found in the skin that can overgrow and cause problems like dandruff, when the rate at which dead skin cells are shed and replaced begins to speed up, as a reaction to irritation by the fungus.

  • Histoplasma capsulatum is a fungus that normally lives in the soil, and inhalation of its spores can cause histoplasmosis, a systemic fungal infection that affects internal organs causing flu-like symptoms.

Types of anti-fungal medication

Most antifungals work by the same mechanism of action to kill the fungus causing the infection and prevent its spread. They act by inhibiting the fungal enzyme, squalene epoxidase, which prevents the synthesis of ergosterol, an important component of fungal cell membrane that is not found in animal cells. This weakens the fungal cell membrane, causing the cell contents to leak out which kills the fungus. Other antifungals bind to ergosterol in the membrane which has the same effect. Antifungals include:
  • Terbinafine, a broad spectrum antifungal drug that is used to treat a variety of fungal infections, and is particularly effective against tinea and candida. It is available as a cream for topical treatment and as tablets for oral administration.

  • Miconazole oral gel an antifungal drug, belonging to the imidazole group of antifungals that is used as a topical treatment for oral thrush.

  • Fluconazole a broad-spectrum antifungal drug belonging to the triazole group that is used to treat thrush and tinea and is available for oral administration as capsules and tablets.

  • Ketoconazole, a synthetic broad-spectrum antifungal drug that is used to treat a variety of fungal infections in several parts of the body, including pityriasis of the skin, candidiasis or thrush of the mouth and vagina and also systemic fungal infections. It is available as a cream or shampoo for topical treatment and as tablets for oral administration.

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Our antimalarial class of Infections medications are used to treat malaria to kill the parasite plasmodium transmitted by a mosquito bite that destroys red blood cells and causes symptoms of malaria.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. proguanil or the product name, e.g. Malarone.

What is malaria?

Malaria is an infection caused by the protozoan (single cell) parasitic organism Plasmodium that is transmitted by an infected mosquito and enters the blood from a mosquito bite. The plasmodium parasite has a complex life cycle, which begins in the mosquito and continues through several stages in humans. When inject into the blood through a mosquito bite, the sporozoite stage of the plasmodium parasite migrates to the liver where it multiplies and is then released back into the blood stream developing into merozoites. The merozoites infect red blood cells, where they multiply and develop into trophozoites and schizonts, which cause destruction of red blood cells. Some merozoites develop into gametocytes, the sexual form of the parasite, which are taken up by a mosquito when feeding on blood and develop into sporozoites in the salivary gland of the mosquito, ready to begin a new life cycle.

Symptoms of malaria usually appear within 10 to 15 days of the mosquito bite and include fever, shivering, headache, vomiting, muscle pain, and joint pain. If malaria is not treated, it can quickly become life-threatening, causing anaemia and brain damage and disrupting the blood supply to vital organs.

Treatment for malaria

Treatment for malaria depends on breaking the life cycle of the plasmodium as well as preventing further destruction of red blood cells. Treatment is often hampered by the ability of the plasmodium to develop resistance to drugs such as chloroquine.
Quinine is a natural antimalarial that is found in the bark of the cinchona tree. And belongs to the quinoline group of drugs. Quinine sulphate is a synthetic form of natural quinine and is used to treat malaria by acting as blood schizontocide that kills the schizont stage of the plasmodium parasite. Quinine sulphate also causes the accumulation of haem, a product of red blood cell production that is toxic to plasmodium and causes its death; this also prevents spread of infection.

Atovaquone and proguanil are both antimalarials that work by blocking nucleic acid synthesis and thereby inhibiting the replication of the schizont phase of the plasmodium parasite once inside the red blood cells. This prevents further destruction of red blood cells and also prevents spread of the parasite. Atovaquone and proguanil are usually combined in a single medication as they act synergistically to enhance the antimalarial effect.
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Our Anti-parasitic/Scabies class of Infections contain topical medications for the skin are used to treat infections with the parasitic scabies mite that burrows into the skin and causes irritation.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. permethrin or the product name, e.g. Lyderm Cream.

What is scabies?

Scabies is an infection caused by the parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei that burrows into the skin causing irritation and itching. Scabies infection is caused by direct skin contact and burrow lines can be seen at the site of infection, usually between the fingers, on the skin of the hands, feet, wrist, elbows, buttocks and genitals. After a few weeks the immune system develops an allergic reaction to the scabies mite and to its droppings and this can result in severe itching and discomfort, with a rash over the whole body.

Treatment for scabies infection

Treatment with the insecticide permethrin is effective in killing the scabies mite by acting as a neurotoxin and interfering with the nervous system of the parasite. This causes paralysis and death of the mite. The symptoms of scabies infection often continue after the scabies mite has been killed due to the allergic reaction, although this will eventually ease and symptoms disappear.
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Our Anti-Viral class of Infections medications are used to treat diseases and illnesses caused by infection with specific viruses like cold sores and warts. Some are available as both oral and topical treatments.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. Imiquimod or the product name, e.g. Aldara.

Types of viral infection

Many virus infections are not easily treatable because the virus is protected within the host cell. In many cases symptoms are unpleasant but not life-threatening and the virus is usually eliminated by the body’s immune system, however, others can be more serious. Example of virus infections include:
  • The common cold caused by inhaled rhinovirus, resulting in infection of the upper respiratory tract, with symptoms including inflammation, irritation of the throat and nasal passages and rhinitis (runny nose).

  • Influenza or flu, caused by inhaling droplets containing live particles of the virus hemophilus Influenza that infects the upper respiratory tract. It is often confused with a cold but the symptoms are much more severe and can be deadly. The influenza virus exists as different strains and these strains mutate regularly. However, a flu vaccine has been developed, which helps stimulate the body’s immune system to fight infection with the flu virus.

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infects skin cells by direct skin to skin contact, causing warts, which are non-cancerous overgrowth of outer layers of skin around the infected cells. Genital warts are a sexually transmitted condition with symptoms including pain, bleeding and itching. Common skin warts usually form as raised bumps on the hands and feet, also elbows and knees. Warts on the underside of the foot are known as verrucae and can be painful as they grow into the foot.

  • Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) infects mucous membrane cells of the lips (HSV I) and genitals (HSV-II) forming blisters that crust over to form a scab as they heal. Varicella zoster virus, a Herpes-like virus, causes chicken pox and also and shingles (herpes zoster).

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects specific cells of the immune system and can cause Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which results in a compromised immune system and increased risk of opportunistic infections.

  • Some viruses become latent and are reactivated later. For example Herpes virus lies dormant in nerve cells of the skin and then travels back up the nerve to cause more blisters. Similarly Varicella virus can cause shingles if reactivated. Periods of disease remission following HIV infection are also due to viral latency and once infected with HPV, warts can disappear and reappear indefinitely.

Types of antiviral medication

Medications available to treat viral infections include:
  • Imiquimod, used as a topical treatment for genital warts and acts as an immunomodifier by stimulating immune cells in the outer skin layers to produce chemicals called cytokines involved in fighting invasion by HPV.

  • Podophyllotoxin, a plant extract that is used as a topical treatment for genital warts and works by killing skin cells infected with HPV.

  • Oseltamivir, used as a treatment for influenza types A and B and works by inhibiting an important viral enzyme, neuraminidase that is needed for the influenza virus to be able to enter and infect a host cell and then to allow new virus to be released from the infected cell.

  • Acyclovir, used to treat infection with HSV-I that causes cold sores, and HSV-II that causes genital herpes. It is also used to treat shingles or herpes zoster caused by varicella virus. It is a nucleoside analogue and becomes incorporated into the viral DNA within the host cell, which blocks the action of viral DNA polymerase needed for viral DNA synthesis, without affecting normal cellular processes. Acyclovir is available for oral or topical treatment. Valacyclovir is a prodrug of acyclovir that is more readily absorbed and is converted to acyclovir by the liver.

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Our Eyes medications contain cost-effective branded medicines and generic alternatives for treating infections of the eye and eyelids, to reduce inflammation and prevent the spread of infection. 

You can search for the product you want using the search box by entering either the active ingredient, e.g.  Fusidic Acid or the product name, e.g. Fucithalmic Eye Drops.

Types of eye infection

Eye infections are usually caused by bacteria, but fungi and viruses can also be a cause of eye infections, and these do not respond to antibiotics.  Therefore, it is important to know the cause of your eye infection so that you use the correct treatment.  Pain and inflammation are common symptoms of all eye infections, and some treatments also contain anti-inflammatory medications. 

Conjunctivitis is the most common eye infection and is known as pink eye.  It is infection and inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the thin membrane lining the eyelid and the visible part of the eye.  Blepharitis is another common eye infection, where the eyelid becomes infected and swollen.  A stye is a red pimple or small lump on the eyelid caused by an infection in the sebaceous gland (oil gland) at the base of an eyelash hair follicle.  Keratitis is an infection of the cornea (the clear area at the front of the eye over the lens and pupil), which is often caused by a scratch or an injury. 

Common symptoms of most eye infections include redness, pain, swelling, irritation, a sensation of having something in the eye, watery eyes, or sticky discharge. 

Eye infection treatments

Medications for treating eye infections include eye drops and eye ointments.  These are topical medications that can be applied directly into the eye.  The type of medication you use depends on the infection and symptoms you are being treated for and may contain a combination of medicines.  Some antibiotics in eye drops and ointments are particularly suitable for topical use, for example, Fusidic acid.  Some eye treatments contain a mixture of antibiotics to ensure a broad spectrum of bacteria is targeted.  A combination of an antibiotic with a corticosteroid is an effective treatment for an eye infection that has become inflamed.

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Doom and Bloom Survival Medications

When you are in an emergency situation, unfortunately any illness can present and remain with you. We have put together a list of survival antibiotics that you will want to make sure you have a good supply of and store as much of them as possible. Ensure that you store these medications somewhere dry and cool as heat and moisture can be a problem making the medications no longer effective. 

Survival Antibiotics

Traditional Antibiotics:

(Note: you might be able to get these or an equivalent antibiotic from your doctor as samples in sealed packages)

  • Cephalexin 500mg Tabs (GENERIC, Keflex)
  • Erythromycin 500mg Tabs (for those allergic to Penicillin or Cephalexin) 

Non-traditional Antibiotics:

(Note:These both are smaller pills than the traditional antibiotics above and the number of pills required is much less, but they are more expensive. Use when space is at a premium.)

  • Ciprofloxacin 500mg Tabs

(These are taken only twice a day, halving the number traditionally required)

  • Zithromax 250mg Capsules

(A full course of treatment only requires six doses, but they are VERY expensive.)

Another prescription medication to consider is a topical adrenocortico-steroid. These drugs are used to treat contact dermatitis (ie. poison ivy, oak and sumac), minor burns and sunburn and various other skin irritations. Non-prescription strength Hydrocortisone .5% and 1% is often included in first aid kits. It is very low potency, one reason it is available over the counter, and not much help in a lot of cases. A better choice might be one of the more potent medications in this class of drugs. Triamcinolone cream or ointment .1% or .5% (Aristicort, Kenalog) is much more potent and effective and available as a generic, making it inexpensive. Your doctor may offer other suggestions in this same class of drugs.

Here’s what is suggested and why

No antibiotic is effective against every type of microbe. Certain ones will kill aerobic bacteria, others are used for anaerobic bacteria, still others are effective against resistant strains, and certain people are allergic to or intolerant of various antibiotics. The following are all generics, running about $10 for about a month’s treatment.
  • Amoxicillin is the old standby for most respiratory infections (probably most of which are viral and don’t even require antibiotics). It is excellent for strep throat and some strains of pneumococcal bacteria. It is also safe for children and pregnant women. It is well-tolerated, causing little stomach distress or diarrhea. The drawbacks are that some people are truly allergic, and many bacteria have developed resistance to amoxicillin (especially staph) through overuse among both humans and animals. Anyone truly allergic to amoxicillin should substitute erythromycin or another antibiotic.
  • Cephalexin works on most of the same bacteria as amoxicillin, plus is stronger against Staph aureus, which mostly causes skin infections. It rarely works against MRSA (resistant staph), however. It is also well-tolerated in children and is safe in pregnant women, causing few side-effects. Like any antibiotic, it carries the risk of allergy. People who develop anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergy) with amoxicillin probably should not take cephalexin, as there is a good 10% cross-reactivity between the two. If I had to choose between stockpiling amoxicillin or cephalexin, I would choose cephalexin. The combination drug, amoxicillin-clavulanate (Augmentin), is as strong against staph, but more expensive and harder on the stomach.
  • Ciprofloxacin is useful for anthrax (which I’ve never seen), urinary tract and prostate infections (which are very common), and many forms of pneumonia and bronchitis. One of the more important and selective uses of ciprofloxacin is in combination with metronidazole for diverticulitis. This potentially life-threatening infection usually (or at least often) requires two antibiotics to resolve. (Levaquin and Avelox are a bit stronger than ciprofloxacin and could be substituted for this, but are much more expensive.) Ciprofloxacin is not used in women or children unless the benefit clearly outweighs the risk, although the risk of joint damage (seen in animals) appears minimal. Taking ciprofloxacin by mouth is nearly as effective as taking by IV.
  • Doxycycline is useful in penicillin/amoxicillin-allergic adults for respiratory infections and some urinary/prostate infections. It is avoided in children and pregnant women unless the benefit clearly outweighs the risk (of permanent tooth discoloration in children under the age of 8). Doxycycline is sometimes effective against penicillin-resistant bacteria. If I were limited to either doxycycline or erythromycin, I would choose erythromycin for stockpile.
  • Erythromycin is useful for most of the same infections amoxicillin is used for, and thus can be substituted in penicillin-allergic patients. However, erythromycin tends to cause the intestine to contract, often causing cramps or diarrhea. (This property is sometimes used to help patients with conditions that impair intestinal motility.) It can be safely used in children and pregnant women.
  • Metronidazole is an unusual antibiotic used for very specific infections. It is aimed primarily at anaerobic bacteria, primarily those found in the intestine. It is also used for certain STDs, including trichomonas. As mentioned above, it is very useful in combination with ciprofloxacin (or SMZ-TMP, below) for diverticulitis. It is the only inexpensive antibiotic effective for Clostridium difficile (c. diff, or antibiotic-related) colitis. It is also effective against certain amoeba. This drug is not used in children unless the benefit clearly outweighs the risk.
  • SMZ-TMP is a combination drug of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim. The latter antibiotic is used mainly for urinary infections. The sulfa component is effective against many respiratory bacteria and most urinary pathogens, although ciprofloxacin is somewhat stronger. The main reason to stockpile SMZ-TMP is due to its effectiveness against resistant staph (MRSA).
Of course, only the most understanding fellow-prepper physician is likely to prescribe all these in quantity. The list can be narrowed a bit, by dropping doxycycline (since erythromycin covers most microbes that doxycycline would kill, and can be used in young children) and amoxicillin (because cephalexin covers most amoxicillin-sensitive bacteria and has the benefit of effectiveness against staph aureus).
The top five antibiotics would therefore be:
  • Cephalexin
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Erythromycin
  • Metronidazole

Of these, SMZ-TMP and ciprofloxacin have the most duplicate coverage, as do cephalexin and erythromycin. Since the intolerance of erythromycin is much higher than is allergy to cephalexin, I would favour cephalexin. Ciprofloxacin is stronger for intra-abdominal infections than SMZ-TMP, and is less likely to develop resistance. Although its use in children is a bit of a concern due to the question of joint pain (although this is rare), I would favour ciprofloxacin over than SMZ-TMP, even though SMZ-TMP is effective against MRSA. However, when the use of antibiotics is severely curtailed, antibiotic resistance will also decrease, and therefore MRSA will become less of a concern.

Therefore, the top three antibiotics to stockpile would be:

  • Cephalexin
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Metronidazole


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What is an infection?

An infection is when a microbe or microorganism invades the body and replicates, resulting in illness and disease with symptoms including pain, inflammation, fever and sores, depending on the type of microorganism and where the infection is located. The infective organism is known as a pathogen and can enter the body by several routes, for example, through a wound, by inhalation, in body fluids, in contaminated food, or in a vector (another organism that transmits a pathogen).
An infection can be caused by:
  • Bacteria, which are single cell organisms with a cell wall but no nucleus and all equipment needed to replicate their genetic material independently of the host cell.
  • Viruses, which are much smaller than bacteria, are surrounded by a protein capsule and cannot replicate independently, instead they use the host cell enzymes to replicate their genetic material, which can be either DNA or RNA.
  • Fungi, which are multi-cellular organisms that replicate independently and spread by growing hyphae, as in the case of mould-like fungi called dermatophytes such as tinea, or by budding as in the case of yeasts like candida.

Bacterial infections

Many bacteria live in the body without causing any harm, such as in the intestines where they help with digestion, or on the skin. However if bacteria invade the body, for example through a wound, by inhalation or in food, they can end up in a part of the body they are not meant to be and can become pathogenic by dividing and reproducing rapidly within the cells of the infected tissue. This is a bacterial infection which can cause illness with symptoms including pain, inflammation and sores, depending on the type of bacteria and where the infection is located. Different strains of some bacteria cause different types of infection and some bacteria produce toxins, which damage the surrounding tissues. A bacterial infection can be serious even life threatening if the bacteria get into the blood (septicaemia).


Antibiotics are medications used to treat bacterial infections. The mechanism of action varies between different classes of antibiotic and this determines how they work to prevent the spread of a bacterial infection. Antibiotics that target the bacterial cell wall, cell membrane or essential enzymes kill the bacteria and these antibiotics are called bacteriocidal, for example penicillins like amoxycillin, cephalosporins like cephalexin, sulphonamides like sulfamethoxazole and fluoroquinolones like ciprofloxacin. Others target protein synthesis, which prevents the bacteria from dividing but does not kill them and these antibiotics are called bacteriostatic, for example macrolides like erythromycin, Lincosamide like clindamycin, aminoglycosides like streptomycin and Tetracyclines like doxycycline. Some antibiotics have a broad spectrum of action against many different bacteria, whereas some have a narrow spectrum and are used specifically for certain families of bacteria.

Viral infections

Viral infections are due to invasion of the host cell DNA by a virus, which then uses the cell’s enzyme to replicate so that new virus particles can be produced and shed ready to infect another cell, killing the host cell in the process. The common cold is caused by infection of the upper respiratory tract usually by a rhinovirus, and infection of the same tissues with influenza virus causes influenza, which is often confused with a cold but the symptoms are much more severe and can be deadly. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infects skin cells, causing warts and is also associated with cervical cancer. Herpes Simplex virus infects mucous membranes of the genitals (genital Herpes) and lips (cold sores). Varicella, a Herpes-like virus, causes chicken pox and also shingles (herpes zoster). Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects cells of the immune system and can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).


Viruses are not easy to treat, as unlike bacteria it is difficult to kill the virus without killing the body’s cells. However, there are antiviral drugs for treating viral infections, which work by several different mechanisms to prevent the growth and spread of the virus, but they do not kill the virus. An immunomodifier activates immune cells in outer layers of the skin to help fight invasion by a virus; other drugs kill infected skin cells. Some drugs target viral enzymes, for example, an influenza drug prevents new virus particles being released from infected cells. An enzyme that is needed to replicate newly synthesised viral DNA is another target. For the treatment of RNA viruses like HIV, drugs block the action of a specific viral enzyme that converts viral RNA to DNA so that it cannot become incorporated into the host DNA to be replicated.

Fungal infections

Most fungal infections of the skin, scalp and nails are caused by Tinea, which is a dermatophyte fungus and spreads through the skin by small filaments called hyphae. Yeasts also cause fungal infection, the most common being Candida, which spreads by budding and infects mucous membranes of the mouth and vagina causing the infection candidiasis commonly referred to as thrush. The fungus malassezia is a yeast normally found in the skin but can overgrow and cause problems like dandruff. It also causes pityriasis versicolor, which appears as white to brown scaly patches on the body. Symptoms of a fungal infection include rash, itching, scaling of the skin and inflammation.


Most anti-fungal treatments have a broad-spectrum of action and work in the same way. They target a specific fungal enzyme needed produce ergosterol, which is a major component of the fungal cell membrane, and as a result the fungal membrane becomes weakened and leaks. This kills the fungus and prevents the infection. Anti-fungals are available as tablets and capsules for oral administration, gels and creams for topical infections and shampoos for infections of the scalp.

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