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Word goes out on use of antibiotics.

Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

Local buses will soon carry more than just passengers.

Lane Transit District buses, along with buses in Portland and Salem, will carry messages in English and Spanish urging the proper use of antibiotics.

The campaign, "Antibiotics don't work for colds and flu," will appear on more than 100 buses statewide, thanks to the Oregon Alliance Working for Antibiotic Resistance Education, AWARE, which will use federal dollars to fund the outreach effort.

"We want to make the public aware that antibiotic resistance is an emerging public health threat, and lack of awareness only adds to the problem," Dr. Mel Kohn said. Kohn is a state epidemiologist with the state Department of Human Services.

Antibiotics are effective only in fighting bacterial infections. They don't have any impact on viruses. Yet many people with colds that are due to viruses pressure their doctor for antibiotics. Widespread excessive use of antibiotics causes some bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics.

Yet a survey showed that 74 percent of Oregonians are unaware of the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

Misusing antibiotics can lead to expensive problems down the road, said Dr. Robert Dannenhoffer, president of the Oregon Medical Association.

"Taking antibiotics unnecessarily, not taking the entire prescription when prescribed, or saving old drugs for later use - these practices all contribute to creating resistant bacteria," Dannenhoffer said. "Such bacteria cause illnesses that are hard to treat and require expensive, inconvenient and potentially dangerous medications."

Pneumococcus, a bacteria that can cause pneumonia and meningitis, has grown more resistant to penicillin in recent years, Kohn said. In 2004, 22 percent of serious pneumococcal infections in the country were resistent to penicillin. In Portland, 17 percent of cases were resistant. Kohn said it was the first local increase in antibiotic resistance in several years.


Don't pressure your health care provider to prescribe antibiotics for viral infections such as colds or flu. Antibiotics have no power against viruses and can cause side effects.

If antibiotics are prescribed, take every dose, even if symptoms improve. Not finishing treatment contributes to resistant bacteria.

Never share antibiotics, take a prescription that isn't yours or use leftover antibiotics to treat an illness.

- Oregon Department of Human Services
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Title Annotation:Health
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 25, 2005
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