Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Antibiotic Resistance?

Ever since the arrival of penicillin in the early 1940s, bacteria have been evolving defenses against some of our strongest medicines. As bacteria become increasingly resistant to antibiotic drugs, some experts worry that we could once again find ourselves in the dark ages where common infections are difficult, if not impossible, to treat. Experts say we can regain the upper hand over dangerous germs -- but only if patients and doctors work together to use antibiotics wisely. How much do you know about antibiotic resistance? Take this short quiz to find out.

1. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, you should keep taking the pills until you feel better.

True

False

2. Because antibiotics don't affect viruses, they are useless against many common illnesses. Which of these conditions is MOST likely to respond to the drugs?

a. Common cold

b. Strep throat

c. Flu

d. Bronchitis

3. If you use antibacterial soaps for everyday cleaning, you could unwittingly be creating super-germs that are resistant to antibiotics.

True

False

4. If you develop a bacterial infection in a hospital, it will likely be resistant to at least one antibiotic.

True

False

5. Tuberculosis used to be relatively easy to treat with antibiotics, but new strains of drug-resistant germs are greatly complicating treatment. Which of these other conditions have become harder to treat because of antibiotic resistance?

a. Gonorrhea

b. Staph infections

c. Meningitis

d. All of the above

6. Bacteria still haven't found a defense against vancomycin, one of the most powerful antibiotics around.

True

False

7. If you have some antibiotics in your medicine cabinet, it's all right to share them with a sick friend. True or false?

True

False

Your Results

1. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, you should keep taking the pills until you feel better.

The correct answer is: False

If you stop taking your antibiotics just because you feel better, you might be giving your germs a chance to regroup. The medication probably killed the most sensitive bacteria first, so only the toughest germs are likely to remain. If these germs get a chance to multiply and spread, the infection will be much harder to treat. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, take every last pill no matter how good you feel.

2. Because antibiotics don't affect viruses, they are useless against many common illnesses. Which of these conditions is MOST likely to respond to the drugs?

The correct answer is: b. Strep throat

Sore throats caused by Streptococcus bacteria usually clear up quickly after treatment with antibiotics. Keep in mind, however, that 85 percent of people with sore throats don't have strep. Most have a viral infection that will not respond to antibiotics. Likewise, antibiotics won't have any effect against colds, flu, or other common viral illnesses. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, inappropriate prescriptions for antibiotics are a major cause of antibiotic resistance. Unless your doctor sees clear signs of a bacterial infection, you shouldn't go home with a prescription for antibiotics.

3. If you use antibacterial soaps for everyday cleaning, you could unwittingly be creating super-germs that are resistant to antibiotics.

The correct answer is: True

Plain, old-fashioned soap can kill almost all of the bacteria on your hands or counter top, but many people use antimicrobial soaps for even greater microbial carnage. These soaps and other antibacterial products often contain triclosan, a common germ killer. Triclosan may wipe out a few extra germs, but, like any other antibiotic, it can potentially encourage antibiotic resistance if overused. These products may also be a waste of money. As recently reported by the Food and Drug Administration, there's no evidence that everyday use of antimicrobial soaps helps prevent illness. Unless someone in your house just got back from the hospital or has a weak immune system, regular soap is a smarter choice.

4. If you develop a bacterial infection in a hospital, it will likely be resistant to at least one antibiotic.

The correct answer is: True

Hospitals are breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant germs. These infections are difficult to treat, so be sure to let your doctor know if your illness doesn't seem to be responding to treatment.

5. Tuberculosis used to be relatively easy to treat with antibiotics, but new strains of drug-resistant germs are greatly complicating treatment. Which of these other conditions have become harder to treat because of antibiotic resistance?

The correct answer is: d. All of the above

Antibiotic resistance has also added to the danger of malaria, bacterial pneumonia, and food-borne germs such as Campylobacter and Escherichia coli.

6. Bacteria still haven't found a defense against vancomycin, one of the most powerful antibiotics around.

The correct answer is: False

Vancomycin used to be a surefire remedy for staph infections and other illnesses, but even this drug is losing some of its punch. A few strains of vancomycin-resistant staph bacteria have emerged in the United States and a few other countries. Vancomycin is also becoming less effective against Enterococci bacteria, a major cause of urinary tract infections.

7. If you have some antibiotics in your medicine cabinet, it's all right to share them with a sick friend. True or false?

The correct answer is: False

You should never share medicines: Only a doctor or nurse practitioner should prescribe drugs. Besides being ineffective, sharing medicines can be dangerous: a drug might interact in a hazardous way with another one your friend is taking, or he may be allergic to the antibiotic you're taking. Finally, sharing part of a course of antibiotics can encourage antibiotic resistance. Take your friend to the doctor instead.

References

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Battle of the bugs: fighting antibiotic resistance. September 2003.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 2001.

National Institutes of health. Antimicrobial resistance. June 2000.

Last Updated:

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