THE danger of taking antibiotics unnecessarily will be the focus of a new project across Oxfordshire.

The county council is backing a campaign to ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ as the cold weather sets in.

It is warning people that antibiotics should not be taken to treat illnesses such as coughs, earache and sore throats.

Antibiotics may not work to treat these illnesses and could also put people at risk of more severe and longer infection in the future.

Residents are being urged to always trust their doctor, nurse or pharmacist’s advice as to when they need antibiotics.

When antibiotics are prescribed, they should never be saved for later use of shared with others, the county council has said.

The campaign comes as concerns continue over the increasing ineffectiveness of antibiotics.

An estimated 5,000 deaths are caused every year in England because antibiotics no longer work for some infections.

Public Health England (PHE) predict that in 30 years antibiotic resistance will kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined.

The drugs are essential to treat serious bacterial infections, such as meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis, but they are frequently being used to treat illnesses that can get better naturally.

Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria to become resistant meaning that antibiotics may not work when really needed.

‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ also aims to provide effective self-care advice to help individuals and their families feel better if they are not prescribed antibiotics.

Councillor Hilary Hibbert-Biles, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, said she was pleased to support the campaign.

She said taking antibiotics could ‘put you and your family at risk.

“To help keep antibiotics working always take your doctor or nurse’s advice on antibiotics” she added.