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CDC Warns of Antibiotic Overuse

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ATLANTA, Sep 17, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The U.S. government will use television, radio and print ads to convey a simple message -- antibiotics are useless against viruses like colds and flu.

The ad campaign is aimed at parents, because most outpatient prescriptions for antibiotics are prescribed for children, the Wall Street Journal reported.

While effective for strep throat, sinus infections or bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics won't cure bronchitis, flu, runny noses, sore throats or 80 percent of children's ear infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

One of the promotional items used is an owl toy hung on pediatricians' stethoscopes, whose tiny T-shirt bears the slogan "Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work."

The bespectacled T-shirted bird is part of the CDC's first major effort to reach consumers nationwide and inform them the overuse of antibiotics has resulted in new drug-resistant strains of bacteria.

While physicians have been warned concerning the overuse of antibiotics since the mid-1990s, the CDC hopes by going directly to consumers, patients will pressure doctors less for the drugs.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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