British Middle Schoolers Help Warn Peers of Antibiotic Overuse

The overuse–and, in the case of using it to treat the common cold, the improper use–of antibiotic drugs is a problem in most of the developed world.  Health experts in the U.S. and overseas worry that over-prescription is resulting in a growing number of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacterial illnesses.  To combat the problem and raise awareness, researchers in England are experimenting with having children share the message “Take care, not antibiotics” with each other.  More from Reuters:

Starting in January, 13-year-olds at the eighth-grade level in England’s schools will be teaching peers and younger kids about microbes, proper hygiene and why antibiotic overuse is a bad thing. Researchers hope to implement a nation-wide program in September 2014.

“The idea is that the kids will go back home and tell their parents what they’ve learned,” said lead researcher Donna Lecky of Public Health England in the United Kingdom.

To counter a worrisome increase in antibiotic-resistant diseases, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in 2008 designated November 18 as European Antibiotic Awareness Day.

In 2010, 24 European Union states, plus Norway and Iceland, reported their most recent antibiotics use to the ECDC. Overall, numbers of antibiotic doses decreased or stabilized in 15 countries and increased in 11 since the last survey in 2009.

The same report stated that the most commonly prescribed antibiotics in community health clinics, not including hospitals, were drugs in the penicillin family, another category known as macrolides and tetracyclines.

Image: Child with a cold, via Shutterstock

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