Our Post-Antibiotics Future Story Goes Viral

In “Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future,” reporter Maryn McKenna details how antibiotic resistance is spreading and why, and what could be done to quell the problem. She frames the importance of modern antibiotics around the story of her distant relative, who died of an infection from a simple injury, just before the discovery of penicillin.

The piece immediately went viral on Medium.com, a news-and-views site created by one of the founders of Twitter. As of April 2014, four months after its publication, it continued to gain readership, with more than 400,000 pageviews, and 57 percent of viewers reading the entire story.

In addition, the story was re-reported in over 30 other outlets, including The New York TimesThe Washington PostNews HourSalon and the popular technology site Boing Boing. McKenna’s piece also was selected as one of the best of 2013 by National GeographicBusiness Week, and Medium.com, and was translated into Russian and French and republished at major outlets abroad.

New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter included the story in an e-mail seeking support for legislation that would alter rules on the use of antibiotics in agriculture, under the subject heading: “The most important stories about the antibiotic resistance crisis of the last six months.”

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