Background on Antibiotic Resistance
Antibiotics, also known as antimicrobial drugs, are drugs that fight infections caused by bacteria. After their discovery in the 1940's they transformed medical care and dramatically reduced illness and death from infectious diseases. However, over the decades the bacteria that antibiotics control have developed resistance to these drugs. Today, virtually all important bacterial infections in the United States and throughout the world are becoming resistant. For this reason, antibiotic resistance is among CDC's top concerns.
Antibiotic resistance can cause significant danger and suffering for children and adults who have common infections, once easily treatable with antibiotics.
Antibiotic Resistance- what it is and how it happens:Antibiotic use promotes development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply causing more harm. Widespread use of antibiotics promotes the spread of antibiotic resistance. While antibiotics should be used to treat bacterial infections, they are not effective against viral infections like the common cold, most sore throats, and the flu.
Smart use of antibiotics is the key to controlling the spread of resistance.
What does CDC recommend?
Only use antibiotics when they are likely to be beneficial.
By visiting this website you are taking the first step to reducing your risk of getting antibiotic-resistant infections. It is important to understand that, although they are very useful drugs, antibiotics designed for bacterial infections are not useful for viral infections such as a cold, cough, or flu.
How can you prevent antibiotic-resistant infections?
Talk with your health care provider about antibiotic resistance.
Ask whether an antibiotic is likely to be beneficial for your illness.
Ask what else you can do to feel better sooner.
Do not take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or the flu.
Do not save some of your antibiotic for the next time you get sick.
Take an antibiotic exactly as the doctor tells you.
Do not take an antibiotic that is prescribed for someone else.
Tackling Antibiotic Resistance:
Overuse of antibiotics is jeopardizing the usefulness of essential drugs. Decreasing inappropriate antibiotic use is the best way to control resistance. In 1995, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a national campaign to reduce antimicrobial resistance through promotion of more appropriate antibiotic use.
CDC's National Campaign:
CDC's National Campaign for Appropriate Antibiotic Use has two OBJECTIVES:
Reduce inappropriate antibiotic use
Reduce the spread of resistance to antibiotics
To accomplish these objectives, the campaign uses the following approaches:
Developing strategies and materials that will lead to changes in antibiotic use.
Serving as a resource to groups undertaking their own campaigns.
Forming partnerships to harness the resources of collaborating organizations.
Assessing impact on antibiotic use, resistance, and patient/physician satisfaction.
Current campaign activities include:
Developing and distributing educational materials promoting appropriate antibiotic use
Funding states to develop, implement and evaluate local campaigns
Evaluating and promoting a medical school curriculum on appropriate use of antibiotics
Continuing to develop and test a Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set (HEDIS) measures for appropriate antibiotic use
Several other programs within the CDC address the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance. You can find information on specific programs at the following websites:
Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion
National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) for Enteric Bacteria
Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work on the Farm
Implementing a national advertising campaign promoting the appropriate use of antibiotics
In 1998, a group from CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) drafted principles of judicious antimicrobial use for pediatric upper respiratory infections (Pediatrics 1998; 101:161-184).
This year, CDC collaborated with members of American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, AAFP, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America to develop principles for appropriate antimicrobial use for adult upper respiratory tract infections. These were published in the March 23, 2001 edition of The Annals of Internal Medicine and in the June 2001 edition of The Annals of Emergency Medicine.