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An antibiotic is a chemical substance that is toxic to bacteria but is not toxic to the cells of higher animals. Antibiotics are of many different chemical types and work by various routes, but they all share one thing in common: they don't kill viruses. Because of potential toxicity to the patient and the development of drug resistance by bacteria, antibiotics are used by physicians with due consideration for all the factors involved. See also mycoplasma, chlamydia.