The Capital Area Health Alliance is campaigning over the next two weeks to reduce antibiotic misuse and overuse. The CDC estimates 20 to 50 percent of all prescriptions for antibiotics are dispensed when they don't need to be, and even worse, patients aren't taking them correctly.
Immediate risks are allergic reactions, but long-term misuse of antibiotics is more serious.
"The long term consequences that the overuse of antibiotics in the population decreases their effectiveness for the bacterial diseases they were designed to treat and that's called drug resistance," Dr. Larry Rawsthorne, Sparrow Hospital.
Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics. Those viruses include cold, 99 percent of coughs, diarrhea and vomiting, 95 percent of fevers and 90 percent of sore throats.