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CDC Launches Antibiotic Awareness Campaign

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For years we have been warned that overuse and misuse of antibiotics is leading to the rise of drug-resistant strains of germs.

Now the Centers for Disease Control is trying to educate patients about when it's appropriate to get an antibiotic and when it's not.

If you or a family member is sick, you want the best medications right away. But that does not always mean an antibiotic.

Dr. Richard Besser/ CDC's Get Smart Campaign: "We did a survey that found that half of all Americans when they are sick enough to see a doctor for a cold, want an antibiotic. We want to get the message out that not only will that antibiotic not work, it won't prevent you getting a more severe infection."

So the CDC is running some public service ads as part of it's "Get smart about antibiotic use" campaign, letting people know when they need antibiotics and when they don't.

There's a real medical need behind the campaign.

Some bacteria responsible for life-threatening infections in hospitals have become resistant to virtually all the available antibiotics, putting patients' lives at risk.

Even some everyday germs are posing a bigger threat than in the past.

Dr. Besser: "Patients who have ear infections and used to be easily treated, some of them are getting resistant infections and are not responding readily to antibiotics. If we don't act now, we are going to run out of antibiotics and we won't have them when we truly need them."

Drug resistance is becoming so common it's hard for pharmaceutical companies to come up with new drugs to treat them.

That's why the campaign has a simple message.

Dr. Besser: "The basic message is don't ask for an antibiotic. Ask for the best care for your illness."

Another part of the campaign is educating doctors so they don't give patients antibiotics just to keep them happy or get them out of the office.

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