7 common misconceptions of antibiotic resistance

The findings of a World Health Organization survey of more than 10,000 people worldwide on their perceptions of antibiotic resistance point to an urgent need to improve understanding of the global health crisis.



The results, published during the CDC's Get Smart About Antibiotics Week and the WHO's own World Antibiotics Awareness Week, highlight a number of widespread public misconceptions about antibiotic resistance.

"The findings of this survey point to the urgent need to improve understanding around antibiotic resistance," Keiji Fukuda, MD, special representative of the Director-General for Antimicrobial Resistance for the WHO, said in a statement. "This campaign is just one of the ways we are working with governments, health authorities and other partners to reduce antibiotic resistance. One of the biggest health challenges of the 21st century will require global behavior change by individuals and societies."

The multi-country survey included 14 questions about antibiotic stewardship. Here are 7 key findings.

• 64 percent of respondents say they are aware antibiotic resistance could affect them and their families. However, how they will be affected and what they can do to mitigate the affects is not well understood.
• 64 percent of respondents believe antibiotics can be used to treat colds and flu, even though they have no impact on viruses.
• 32 percent of respondents believe they should stop taking prescribed antibiotics when they feel better, rather than completing the prescribed course of medication.
• 76 percent of respondents think antibiotic resistance happens when the body becomes resistant to antibiotics. In fact
bacteria — not humans or animals — become resistant to antibiotics and cause hard-to-treat infections.

• 66 percent of respondents believe individuals are not at risk of a drug-resistant infection if they personally take antibiotics as prescribed. Nearly half, 44 percent of people surveyed think antibiotic resistance is only a problem for people who take antibiotics regularly. In fact, anyone, of any age, in any country can get an antibiotic-resistant infection.
• 57 percent of respondents feel there is not much they can do to stop antibiotic resistance, while 64 percent believe medical experts will solve the problem before it becomes too serious.
• 73 percent of respondents say farmers should give fewer antibiotics to food-producing animals.

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