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Antibiotic Resistance Movement

To many dictionaries and the lay public, an "antibiotic" is a drug that treats bacteria as well as other microbes (e.g. viruses). It is, thus, a terrible word for public health organizations to use when they mean "antibacterial." So this collection of images is my passive-aggressive way to undermine it's usage. You can help by using these images for your talks.

Doctors are urged to stop prescribing antibiotics. They should prescribe "antibacterials". The latter provides information. The former provides confusion. People, I don't care how much in love you are with the word, "antibiotics". Get over it -- it's really causing over-prescription of antibacterials. colinpurrington.c...

The CDC has a "Get Smart about Antibiotics" campaign in which they use "antibiotics" probably 10 million times. This image shows one page modified to use "antibacterials" instead. As a thought experiment, how many people will answer "Viruses" to "Antibacterials fight infections caused by..."? I'm guessing pretty darn close to zero. That's why the word is so much better than "antibiotics."

Shopping list for antivirals and antibacterials. Collectively, the show calls them "antibiotics". That's the lay meaning, too: drugs that kill microbes. And that's the definition in many dictionaries. So, if you want to be clear, never, ever use antibiotics as a word ... unless you want to confuse people. colinpurrington.c...

Venn guide to pills that kill things. Note that the true, original meaning of antibiotics was a compound that killed life. So antibiotics = anti-infective. That's still the lay definition. But many scientists and physicians now use the word to refer to "antibacterials." They shouldn't. They should say "antibacterials". Why? To avoid confusing everyone? When should they start using "antibacterials"? Um, now would be great. colinpurrington.c...

Google Trends searches for antibacterial soap and antibiotic soap. The public _expects_ soaps to be labeled antiviral or antibacterial. Similarly, the public assumes that if a drug is antibacterial, doctors would call it that. So when doctors call a drug antibiotic, they assume the doctor is implying that the drug treats more than just bacteria. That's why patients lobby for "antibiotics" so vigorously -- they are wonder drugs, good for anything that infects us.

Google Trends for antibiotics

Haiku about people's confusion over viruses. Unfortunately, there are no data on percentage of people believing that viruses are bacteria. That gap in our knowledge about people's gaps in knowledge astonishes me. CDC, Pew, etc...can you get on this, already? colinpurrington.c...

Definitions of antibiotic and antibacterial. The former is a broad, vague term. It really sucks. Antibacterial specific.

Different types of anti-infective drugs. This image would look great slapped onto a wall in a waiting room or examination room. Docs and nurses could point at it when describing treatment options. Please not that the word "antibiotic" is absent. That absence makes it clearer. colinpurrington.c...

Definition of antibiotic.

Survey about antibiotics and antibacterials. 10% of the public believe that antibiotics don't treat bacteria. That's because people don't understand the word. More than 1/3 of people think antibiotics ARE effective against viruses. This confusion would be eliminated if doctors (and CDC, etc.) just used "antibacterial". The word "antibiotic" is a misnomer: when people here it, they derive the WRONG meaning from its roots. colinpurrington.c...