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New Study Reveals US Misconceptions About Antibiotics

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- More than half of Americans know that taking antibiotics when they are not needed can endanger their own health, but less than half know that this situation can negatively impact others as well.

The finding is from a new study done by the Centers for Disease Control and the Pew Charitable Trusts to gauge the public's knowledge of proper antibiotic use.

"[Overuse of antibiotics] can encourage the growth of resistant bacteria," said Allan Coukell, a pharmacist and Director of Medical Programs at Pew. "Superbugs are emerging faster than new drugs to fight them."

The overuse of antibiotics could be attributed to the public's misperception of their effectiveness. The study showed that almost 9 out of 10 Americans know that antibiotics can help cure bacterial infections such as strep throat, but more than a third incorrectly believe that the drugs are also good for the common cold.

“We’re encouraged that most Americans understand that antibiotics are effective treatment for bacterial infections,” said Lauri Hicks, Medical Director of the CDC’s "Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work" program. “But...antibiotic-resistant infections will claim increasing numbers of lives unless we do more to ensure all Americans take these life-saving drugs only when they are needed and as directed by their doctors.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio