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Do Bugs Need Drugs?

Do Bugs Need Drugs? (DBND) is a community education program about the responsible use of antibiotics and the importance of handwashing.

Three Key Messages

The DBND program promotes three key messages: 

  • Wash your hands
  • Not all bugs are created equal
  • Use antibiotics wisely

Handwashing is the best way to stop the spread of infections:


  • Use plain soap and water.
  • No need for antibacterial soap!  These products lead to antibiotic resistance.
  • If soap and water are not available AND if your hands are not dirty or greasy, you can use alcohol-based hand rubs to sanitize your hands.  Wash hands with plain soap and water as soon as you can.


When to wash your hands:


  • Before eating or preparing food.
  • After using the toilet.
  • Before and after changing diapers.
  • After blowing nose.
  • After handling shared objects.
  • Before handling contact lenses.
  • Before flossing your teeth. 


You can make a difference! 


  • Expect doctors, dentists, nurses and therapists to wash their hands before they examine you or your children.
  • Make sure plain soap is available in your child’s school, in your workplace, and places where you eat.
  • Teach by example.  



Viruses and bacteria both cause infections, but antibiotics work against bacteria only.

Viral infections


  • Are more contagious than bacterial infections. Colds, flu, croup, laryngitis, chest colds (bronchitis) and most sore throats are caused by viruses.
  • If more than one person in the family has the same illness, it is most likely a viral infection.
  • Can make you just as sick as bacterial infections.
  • Usually get better in 4 to 5 days, but it may take as long as 3 weeks to fully recover.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses.

Bacterial infections



  • Are less common than viral infections.
  • Do not spread as easily from one person to another as viral infections.
  • Cause infections such as pneumonia and strep throat.


Antibiotics do work against most bacteria.




What is antibiotic resistance?

  • Antibiotic resistance is the ability of a bacteria to survive and multiply, even when an antibiotic is present. Bacteria that have antibiotic resistance cannot be killed by antibiotics and are sometimes called “superbugs”.
  • Using antibiotics when you don’t need them (for example, colds and flu) can lead to antibiotic resistance.
  • It is the bacteria that are resistant, not you! Even very healthy people, who have never taken antibiotics can become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria from others.

You can make a difference!


  • Do not expect to be prescribed an antibiotic.
  • Most respiratory infections are due to viruses.
  • Trust your doctor if an antibiotic has not been prescribed.
  • Wash your hands to prevent the spread of infections.




Programs and materials are reviewed by a panel of medical and scientific experts and are in alignment with the practice guidelines of medical and pharmacy professional organizations, provincial ministries of health and Health Canada.

In British Columbia, the Do Bugs Need Drugs? program is funded by the Ministry of Health, Pharmaceutical Services Division. 

The website supports the Do Bugs Need Drugs media campaign initiatives in BC, directing the public to relevant and specific information about antibiotic stewardship and resistance.

SOURCE: Do Bugs Need Drugs? ( )
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