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Get smart about antibiotics Nov. 16-22

Mon November 16, 2015

Antibiotic resistance, which occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces the effectiveness of antibiotics, is among the most pressing public health threats. The DuPage County Health Department is joining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a broad coalition of partners to observe the eighth annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week Nov. 16-22 to raise awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use across all health care settings. 

The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor which contributes to antibiotic resistance, and up to one-third to one-half of antibiotic use in humans is either unnecessary or inappropriate. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed creates additional health risks by increasing the chances a patient will experience a bad drug reaction, and also leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria which affects everyone in the community.  Patients, healthcare providers, hospital administrators, and policy makers must work together to employ effective strategies for improving antibiotic use - ultimately improving medical care and saving lives.
Get Smart About Antibiotics Week 2015 marks an important year, during which the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria laid out key actions for implementing the National Strategy. Furthermore, a White House Forum was held in June 2015 to discuss the issue of antibiotic stewardship, and heralded widespread and coordinated commitments to combatting antibiotic resistance among a wide variety of stakeholders.
Here is what you can do:

• Only take antibiotics prescribed for you; do not share or use leftover antibiotics. Antibiotics treat specific types of infections. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to multiply.
• Take the antibiotic exactly as the doctor prescribes. Never skip doses or stop taking an antibiotic early unless your doctor tells you to do so. 
• Do not save antibiotics for the next illness. Discard any leftover medication once the prescribed course of treatment is completed.
• Prevent infections by practicing good hand hygiene and getting recommended vaccines.
• Do not ask for antibiotics when your doctor thinks you do not need them. Remember antibiotics have side effects. When your doctor says you don't need an antibiotic, taking one may do more harm than good.  Antibiotics can cure bacterial infections, not viral infections. Treating viruses with antibiotics does not work, and it increases the likelihood that you will become ill with an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection.

The observance of Get Smart About Antibiotics Week 2015 marks the first annual World Antibiotic Awareness Week, which coincides with European Antibiotic Awareness Day, Canada Antibiotic Awareness week, and other similar observances across the world. For additional information about Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work, please visit and              

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