The Centers for Disease Control says more than 2 million Americans are sickened and more than 20 thousand die each year from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The CDC says nearly half of the antibiotics given are either not needed or administered improperly. Doctor Jennifer Hanrahan of Cleveland's MetroHealth Medical Center says physicians and others are working to educate people about the appropriate uses of antibiotics. She says they’ve been able to dispel some misconceptions, including the myth that antibiotics are needed to treat a common cold.
Hanrahan: We were taught that if the drainage is yellow or green, that that was more likely to be bacterial infection. It turns out that's not true; you can't tell by the color of the drainage. and most of the upper respiratory infections that people get are viral infections.
Hanrahan says the overuse of antibiotics on farm animals also causes health problems.
Hanrahan: That is very definitely a problem. Very clearly, antibiotic resistance arose from the antibiotics that are being fed to animals that are being produced for food.
The CDC report says 70 percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are given to animals. The Food and Drug Administration has directed ranchers to stop overusing antibiotics in food-producing animals.