41% of adults think antibiotics kill viruses

Topic Selected: Global Health

General Article icon Type: General Article

Most British adults know when not to use antibiotics, but a sizeable minority have the wrong idea.

 

By William Jordan

 

David Cameron recently drew attention to the growing threat of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, saying the failure to act could cast the world ‘back into the dark ages of medicine’. MPs have also warned that antibiotics have come to be treated as a ‘cure-all’ and called for new steps to stop doctors and vets from prescribing them when they are not essential. Antibiotics are drugs designed to kill bacteria and not viruses. Drug resistance can develop when antibiotics are given out for conditions they are not designed to treat, such as viral infections, and also when patients suffering from a bacterial infection quit their regimen too soon, before the bacteria is killed off completely.

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