Acute Communicable Disease Control
Antibiotic Resistance Education

Types of Germs:
Differences Between Viruses and Bacteria

Viruses Bacteria
Viruses are very small germs. Bacteria are germs that are larger than viruses
Viruses cause illnesses like the cold or flu. <Bacteria cause illnesses like strep throat
Antibiotics don't work to treat viral infections. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections.
Viral illnesses can be treated with over-the-counter medicines to help you feel better.  Talk to your doctor to find out what kind of medicine is best for you. Make sure you take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor until it's all gone.

I'm sick!
What's causing it!
Do I need antibiotics?
Antibiotics are strong medicines but they donít cure all illnesses. Remember that antibiotics are only used to treat bacterial illnesses. Read the chart and know what causes each illness and if antibiotics are needed or not. Talk to your doctor to find out what kind of medicine is best for you.

Illness Usual Cause Antibiotic Needed?
  Virus Bacteria  
Cold X   No
Flu X   No
Chest Cold X   No
Bronchitis X   No
Runny Nose
X   No
Cough X   No
Sinus Infection X X Maybe*
Ear Infection X X Maybe*
Pneumonia X X Usually*
Strep Throat   X Yes
Non-strep Throat X   No
* If the illness is caused by a bacterial infection

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