Nearly 60 percent of people erroneously believe that antibiotics are effective in treating a cold, according to a recent survey in Japan, with medical experts warning their misuse and overuse can increase antimicrobial resistance.

Both the common cold and influenza are viral infections, meaning antibiotics are ineffective treatments. The same is true of a sore throat or a runny nose, according to the Center Hospital of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo.

In an online survey of 500 people, nearly 67 percent of parents with preschool children said they believe antibiotics can fight viruses, while roughly 56 percent said they can cure a cold.

In a separate survey, about 63 percent of people aged 15 and older said that they believe the drugs can cure viral infections.

Influenza, colds and COVID-19 are the top three viruses many respondents thought antibiotics can treat, the hospital said.

Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials are the main factors in the development of drug-resistant pathogens, making infections harder or impossible to combat, according to the World Health Organization.

The Japanese government has said it is concerned about antimicrobial resistance, which is widely considered a "silent pandemic" among medical professionals.

The government has drawn up a five-year action plan in a bid to get a handle on the problem, setting itself the target of reducing daily use of antibiotics per 1,000 people by 15 percent by the final year from 2020 levels.