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Get Smart About Antibiotics

DES MOINES – To bring attention to the growing world-wide problem of antibiotic resistance, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) joins the CDC in observing Get Smart About Antibiotics Week November 14 through 20, 2011. Antibiotic resistance happens when a germ changes and no longer is stopped or killed by an antibiotic. Infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become more common because of widespread overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics.

“Antibiotics are an effective tool against bacterial infections, but not viral infections,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “Antibiotics should not be used to treat viruses that cause illnesses like colds or the flu.”

Iowans can help their families and communities stay healthy by using these simple ways to fight antibiotic resistance:

Don’t ask for antibiotics when you don’t need them or have a viral illness.
When you or your children are prescribed an antibiotic, take it exactly as the doctor tells you. Finish all the medication, even if you are feeling better.
Throw away any leftover medication once you have completed your prescription.
Although antibiotics won’t treat colds, the flu or other respiratory illnesses caused by a virus, you can relieve the symptoms of these infections by trying the following:

Get plenty of rest.
Drink lots of fluids.
Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer.
Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.
Take over the counter pain relievers, decongestants and saline nasal sprays for relief (using them only as directed).
As always, remember the three C’s to help stop the spread of viral illnesses – Cover your cough, Clean your hands, and Contain your germs by staying home when ill.

To learn more about Get Smart About Antibiotics Week and antibiotic resistance, visit and

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