U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week is an annual event that occurs this year from Nov. 18-24 to raise awareness of the importance of appropriate antibiotic use to decrease the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotics are important tools to help fight bacterial infections and potentially save lives; however, some bacteria may develop resistance to these medications. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop the ability to survive killing by antibiotics that are designed to treat those bacterial infections. The antibiotic-resistant bacteria that survive could then continue growing until you’re left with an infection that antibiotics will not be able to treat.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health. According to the 2019 CDCs Antibiotic Resistance (AR) Threats Report, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi cause more than 2.8 million infections every year within the United States, and every 15 minutes, someone dies from an antibiotic-resistant infection. This equates to more than 35,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. Antibiotic overuse is the most important factor that leads to antibiotic resistance. Healthcare professionals, patients, and communities need to work together to encourage the appropriate use of antibiotics to slow down the development of antibiotic resistance.
In order to Be Antibiotics Aware, remember:
- Antibiotics can save lives when they’re needed to treat bacterial infections, but they will not help for infections caused by viruses, such as the common cold, flu, and COVID-19. Antibiotics should be used for the shortest amount of time possible.
- When antibiotics are used unnecessarily, they could lead to other unwanted side effects, including severe diarrhea that could be caused by Clostridioides difficile (C. diff), which requires immediate medical care.
- If you are prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as they were prescribed. Your antibiotics were prescribed to you based on your individual infection and other health factors and should never be shared with others.