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DHS news release

Sept. 16, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180

Technical contact: Ann Thomas, M.D., (503) 731-4024


New educational exhibit promotes safe antibiotic use

Educational efforts aimed at reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics get a new face this month with the launch of a unique, interactive exhibit called "The Nose."

"The Nose," sponsored by the Oregon Alliance Working for Antibiotic Resistance Education (AWARE), makes its public debut from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center's "One-Stop Kids' Health Fair," 24800 SE Stark St. in Gresham.

"A lot of consumers don't realize that antibiotics won't cure colds and the flu," says Laura Saddler, AWARE coordinator in the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS). "As a result, far too many unnecessary prescriptions get written. We want people to understand that this is a serious health issue."

Saddler says that antibiotic overuse has led to the formation of superbugs, which are drug resistant bacteria that can't be killed by normal doses of antibiotics.

Because they are hard to treat, they require longer treatments and more expensive, potentially more dangerous medications.

"This new exhibit is a bit quirky by design, because it's intended to get the attention of children and parents. 'The Nose' delivers prevention messages in a memorable way that we hope will make a lasting impression," says Saddler.

The exhibit stands four feet high. At the push of a button, "The Nose" makes a dramatic sneezing sound, punctuated by a spray of water through its nostrils. It then "speaks," giving one of five important health messages with each button push:

  • Antibiotics don't work for viral infections like colds or the flu. These powerful medications only work against bacteria.
  • If your health care provider prescribes an antibiotic, take every dose as directed.
  • Never share antibiotics, take leftover antibiotics, or use them without a prescription.
  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough to keep from spreading infection to others.
  • Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently is the best way to keep from getting sick.

Saddler says "The Nose" is built to travel and will be appearing at various locations throughout Oregon as opportunities arrive. The exhibit was built by local sculptor Jonquil LeMaster and funded through an unrestricted educational grant from Glaxo SmithKline.

DHS launched the Oregon AWARE coalition two years ago to educate patients and health care providers about the safe use of antibiotics. Since then, AWARE has grown to include more than 40 health care provider organizations, health plans, community groups, industry partners, and academic institutions. Oregon AWARE is one of 27 state and local programs coordinated through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work" campaign.

More information about antibiotics and Oregon AWARE is on the DHS public health Web site.

Information about the Legacy Mt. Hood health fair is on the Legacy Health System Web site.