Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work

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Antibiotics Aren't Always the Answer

Most illnesses are caused by two kinds of germs: bacteria or viruses.

  • Antibiotics can cure bacterial infections, such as strep throat, some pneumonia and sinus infections.
  • Antibiotics do not cure viral infections such as colds or flu, most coughs and bronchitis, sore throats not caused by strep, or runny noses.

Dangers of Antibiotic Resistance

Colds and many other upper respiratory infections, as well as some ear infections, are caused by viruses, not bacteria. If antibiotics are used too often for things they can't treat -- like colds or other viral infections -- they can stop working effectively against bacteria when you or your child really needs them. Antibiotic resistance -- when antibiotics can no longer cure bacterial infections -- has been a concern for years and is considered one of the world's most critical public health threats.

GET SMART: Appropriate Antibiotic Use

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Get Smart website to learn more:

  • Why Antibiotics Aren't Always the Answer
  • Symptom Relief
  • Antibiotic Resistance
  • Fast Facts

Get Smart Virginia, Know When Antibiotics Work. Learn more from the Virginia Department of Health.

Know When Antibiotics Work

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What to Do If You or Your Child Has a Virus Like a Cold or Sore Throat.


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Campaña para promover el uso correcto de los antibióticos.

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Snort. Sniffle. Sneeze. No Antibiotics Please!

Take the Antibiotic quiz - click to take the CDC test

Take the Antibiotics Quiz!

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