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Antibiotics vs. Viruses: Japan Faces Major Health Misconceptions

Antibiotics vs. Viruses: Japan Faces Major Health Misconceptions

A recent survey has shed light on a concerning misconception held by a significant portion of the Japanese population. Nearly 60% of those surveyed believed that antibiotics can effectively treat a cold. This misconception can lead to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, which in turn, can escalate the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

Antibiotics are designed to combat bacterial infections. However, the common cold, influenza, and symptoms like a sore throat or a runny nose stem from viral infections. This means that antibiotics are not only ineffective against these ailments but using them in such cases is also counterproductive. The Center Hospital of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo emphasizes this critical distinction.

Survey Findings

Around 67% of parents with preschool children believe antibiotics can counteract viruses, with approximately 56% under the impression that they can cure a cold. Furthermore, in another survey segment focusing on individuals aged 15 and older, about 63% held the belief that antibiotics are effective against viral infections. Shockingly, influenza, colds, and even COVID-19 topped the list of viruses that respondents thought could be treated with antibiotics.

Warning from WHO

The World Health Organization warns that the misuse and excessive use of antimicrobials play a significant role in the emergence of drug-resistant pathogens. Such pathogens make infections increasingly challenging, sometimes even impossible, to treat.

Japan’s Response to Antimicrobial Resistance

Recognizing the grave nature of antimicrobial resistance – often termed a “silent pandemic” by healthcare professionals – the Japanese government has expressed its concerns. In response, an ambitious five-year action plan has been drafted, aiming for a significant reduction in daily antibiotic usage by the end of the plan.

Source: Japan Times

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