State Encourages Careful Use of Antibiotics to Curb Antibiotic-Resistant Infections

State Encourages Careful Use of Antibiotics to Curb Antibiotic-Resistant Infections

By / State News / Tuesday, 10 March 2015 04:00

RALEIGH, N.C. : March 3rd, 2015 - In light of recent nationwide concerns about antibiotic-resistant infections, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Public Health (DPH) is encouraging healthcare providers and the public to use antibiotics carefully and appropriately to limit the spread of antibiotic resistance. Unnecessary or inappropriate uses of antibiotics are primary causes of the increase in drug-resistant bacteria.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply causing more harm. Some of these infections, like the Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infections that were recently reported in North Carolina, have become resistant to most or all available antibiotics.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect at least two million people each year in the United States, leading to more than 23,000 deaths. Infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria can also result in longer hospital stays and higher health care costs.
"Studies have shown that up to half of all antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary or inappropriate," said Zack Moore, M.D., a pediatrician and DPH medical epidemiologist. "Antibiotics are vitally important and often life-saving drugs, but overuse can cause unwanted side effects and can lead to infections that are difficult to treat or completely untreatable."
DPH is currently participating in a national campaign Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work, which aims to reduce the rise of antibiotic resistance by raising awareness of the following:
• Antibiotic resistance is a major public health threat.
• Antibiotics are the most important tool we have to combat many life-threatening bacterial diseases.
• Antibiotics do not cure viruses, such as those causing colds or flu, most coughs and bronchitis, runny nose, and sore threats not caused by strep.
• Increased antibiotic resistance is compromising the effectiveness of antibiotics.
• Patients, healthcare providers, hospital administrators and policy makers must work together to employ effective strategies for improving appropriate antibiotic use - ultimately saving lives.
What To Do:
• Talk with your healthcare provider about antibiotic resistance.
• Ask your doctor what over-the-counter drugs can help with symptom relief.
• Take a course of antibiotics exactly as the doctor prescribes. Never take antibiotics that were prescribed for someone else.
• Complete the prescribed course of antibiotics, even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you.
• Throw away any leftover medication once the prescribed course is completed.
• If you or a loved one is in a hospital or other health care facility, make sure those caring for you have washed their hands properly and ask your health care providers what they are doing to prevent you from getting an infection.
Additional information about the Get Smart campaign is available at http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/antibiotics.html

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