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A day to promote responsible use of antibiotics

European Antibiotic Awareness Day was marked on 18 November. This year the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) coordinated national campaigns in more than 40 countries on the prudent use of antibiotics, focusing on self-medication.

Many Europeans still wrongly believe that antibiotics are effective against colds or flu. However they are only effective against bacterial infections, not viruses. The campaign was an opportunity to remind us all that only medical doctors can make correct diagnosis and decide whether antibiotics are necessary.

The day also raised the issue of antibiotic resistance. Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics when patients do not follow the instructions correctly, for example shortening the length of time of treatment, taking a lower dose or not taking the antibiotics at the correct time interval prescribed by the doctor.

This resistance has increased in the past years to the point of being a major threat to the future effectiveness of antibiotics. Combined with a lack of new antibiotic treatments, the intensification in antibiotic-resistant bacteria now constitutes a serious risk to public health.

More information on antibiotic resistance is available on ECDC website. You can also download a brochure for patients.