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Support Appropriate Antibiotic Use In Virginia!. Everyone Can Help Keep Antibiotics Working By using antibiotics only when needed Following good hygiene practices. What We’ll Learn. Why children have more illness. How are viruses and bacteria different? How illness is spread.

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Support Appropriate Antibiotic Use In Virginia!

  • Everyone Can Help Keep Antibiotics Working
  • By using antibiotics only when needed
  • Following good hygiene practices

What We’ll Learn...

  • Why children have more illness.
  • How are viruses and bacteria different?
  • How illness is spread.
  • Myths and facts about antibiotics.
  • Tips for for preventing the spread of illness.



Streptococcus Pneumoniae Bacteria

  • Ear infections
  • Meningitis
  • Pneumonia

Influenza VirusFlu

A communicable disease is disease that can be passed from one person to another. These diseases are often caused by germs, such as bacteria or viruses.


Some examples of contagious bacterial diseases are:

-strep throat


-pertussis (whooping cough)

-bacterial conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Antibiotics Work


Some contagious viral infections include:

  • varicella (chicken pox)
  • rubella (German measles)
  • the common cold
  • hepatitis
  • mumps
  • infectious mononucleosis
  • rubeola (measles)
  • Antibiotics Don’t Work

Infection can result from sharing towels, dishes, or from handling contaminated objects. Indirect contact or skin to skin contact can also result in the spread of an illness.


Sometimes an illness is passed to others by a carrier, or a person who has been infected by a germ but does not look or feel sick. This person may carry the germ in their nose, throat, or stomach. They can pass the germ to others by coughing, sneezing, or by not washing their hands properly.

Your hands carry many germs even if you can’t see them.
  • Many people don’t wash their hands because they look clean.
  • As you can see this is not always the case.

Light patches indicate germs carried on the hands

  • cause most common respiratory illnesses, such as colds and coughs
  • cause a variety of infections from diarrhea to meningitis
  • may take 2-3 weeks to resolve completely
  • some viruses can be prevented by vaccines and immunizations
  • antibiotics do not work for viruses

Viruses Cause...

  • Most bronchitis/chest colds
  • Green/yellow nasal discharge
  • Flu
  • Most sore throats
  • Ear aches and some sinusitis

….viruses clear up on their own - antibiotics won't help!


  • make you sick when they are where they don’t belong or grow more rapidly than normal
  • live in your mouth, nose and throat
  • are necessary for normal body functions like digestion
  • are one of the oldest living things on Earth

Bacteria Cause...

  • Strep throat
  • Some ear infections
  • Some sinus infections
  • Pneumonia

...these can be treated with antibiotics



Virus or Bacteria: Who Knows?

  • Let your healthcare provider decide!
  • It is often hard to tell if illnesses are caused by a virus or bacteria
  • Don't pressure healthcare providers or parents for antibiotics



What are Antibiotics?

Powerful medicines with one very important job: to fight disease-causing bacteria.

When used properly, antibiotics can save lives.



Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Are:

Bacteria that mutate and are able to resist the antibiotics that are meant to kill them.

This is a normal process speeded up by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.



What is Antibiotic Misuse?

  • Taking antibiotics when they are not needed:
    • for viral infections
  • When needed, taking antibiotics incorrectly:
    • stopping the medicine when you feel better - not finishing the prescription
    • saving antibiotics for a future illness
    • sharing or using someone else’s medicine



Why is Antibiotic Misuse a Problem?

  • Antibiotics become less effective and may not work the next time you use them.
  • Improper use of antibiotics leads to more antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • Antibiotic resistant bacteria can be spread throughout the community and from person to person.



Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

  • Require stronger antibiotics
  • Are more common in people who recently used antibiotics*
  • Can be spread within a family or a community
  • Can affect anyone
  • Are becoming more common
  • *Pediatrics, Vol. 112 No. 4, p. 862-69, October 2003



Myths and Facts

  • Myth: Taking antibiotics means I or my child can return to work or childcare sooner
  • Fact: Antibiotics do not shorten the duration of viral illnesses
  • Everyone should stay home until they are fever-free and well enough to participate in activities whether they have a viral or bacterial illness.



Myths and Facts

  • Myth: Cold and flu symptoms will feel better or get better faster on antibiotics
  • Fact: Antibiotics cannot ease the symptoms of viral illnesses; these infections resolve on their own
  • Children and adults need extra rest and care, extra fluids…not antibiotics, symptomatic relief is helpful



Myths and Facts

  • Myth: Illnesses with the same symptoms require antibiotics
  • Fact: Illnesses with similar symptoms can be caused by different germs
  • Let a healthcare provider decide if the illness is caused by a virusor bacteria - and if antibiotics are needed



Myths and Facts

  • Myth: If I take an antibiotic, I won’t spread my illness to others
  • Fact: Viral illnesses (colds, flu, etc.) usually spread from person to person before the onset of symptoms; before a person appears ill
  • Antibiotics cannot stop the spread of viral illnesses



How do we Stop Antibiotic Misuse?

  • Don’t ask for antibiotics – let your doctor decide if you need them
  • Always take antibiotics exactly as prescribed
  • Finish the whole prescription - do not stop when you feel better
  • Never save antibiotics for a future illness – or share with others



How Can You Keep Yourself Well





Wash Your Hands...

  • Upon arrival to and before leaving work
  • Before and after handling food
  • Before and after toileting
  • After:
    • working outside
    • handling pets
    • handling any body fluids
    • wiping a child's nose or your own
    • using play dough, sand or water tables



Hand Washing is Important Because…

  • 80% of disease is spread by your hands.
  • Hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of respiratory illness.
  • Some germs can live on dry surfaces for several hours and moist surfaces like, sinks for 3 days.

Handwashing Guidelines

  • Wet hands with warm, running water
  • Add soap (preferably liquid), rub hands together to make a lather, away from water, for at least 15 seconds
  • Rinse hands well
  • Dry thoroughly with a clean, disposable towel
  • Use a hand sanitizer (alcohol-based) when soap and running water is not available (when outside or on trips, wash hands upon return from trips)



Despite Good Handwashing,

Children and adults will still get sick...




  • Immunizations are another important part of infection control for vaccine preventable disease
  • Make sure you and your family is up-to-date on immunizations
  • Get an annual flu shot



Take Home Messages

  • Viruses cause most common respiratory illnesses
  • Viral illness needs time to heal - antibiotics cannot help



Take Home Messages

  • Taking antibiotics for viral illnesses will not:
    • cure the infection
    • keep others from getting the illness
    • make you feel better
  • But it will make it more likely you will have resistant bacteria in your body.



Bottom Line

  • Antibiotics are powerful medicines, but they're not always the answer!
  • Misusing antibiotics now means they may not work when needed later to fight a bacterial infection
  • We all need to play a role to help keep antibiotics working!



Get Smart Virginia

Know When Antibiotics Work

For more information:

Phone: 804-864-8141

For more information and materials, visit: