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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With antibiotic resistant infections on the rise, the CDC and 25 other health organizations are teaming up to try to get the problem under control.

Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections. But a new poll shows more than a third of Americans mistakenly think antibiotics also help fight viruses. Now the feds are trying to change that.

Jon Tilli took antibiotics for five years to treat his chronic sinus problems.

“They said that one wasn’t strong enough, so they gave me this one, and that still didn’t work,” said Jon.

Health officials say antibiotic overuse in the United States is a public health threat. Now the CDC and more than two dozen other health organizations are issuing new policies to fight antibiotic resistance.

“We are seeing an increase in resistance among common infections so we’re seeing an increase in hospitalizations that are due to antibiotic resistant infections,” said Dr. Lauri Hicks, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Doctors say patients need to do their part. If you’re prescribed an antibiotic, take the right dose, complete the course, and do not save leftovers for later. Also, ask your doctor if you really need one.

“Nothing bad is going to happen to you if you wait a day or two to see if you’re going to get better,” said Dr. Lisa Liberatore, an otolaryngologist.

It turns out Jon needed surgery to correct his sinus problems.

“It was pretty much reconstructing my left sinuses,” said Jon. Now he’s hoping he won’t have to rely on antibiotics as much.

The new research shows Pennsylvania is below the national average in prescribing antibiotics, while New Jersey and Delaware are above.

Children have the highest rates of antibiotic use, so resistance in children is a big concern.

Related Links:

CDC Get Smart About Antibiotics Campaign – http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/campaign-materials/about-campaign.html
Antibiotic Use & Resistance in the U.S. – http://www.cddep.org/tools/antibiotic_use_and_resistance_us_glance_1999_2010

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