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U.S Antibiotic Awareness Week

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U.S Antibiotic Awareness Week November 13 - 19, 2017

U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week is an annual one-week observance to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic prescribing and use, taking place November 13-19, 2017. The observance is an international collaboration, coinciding with European Antibiotic Awareness Day, Australia’s Antibiotic Awareness Week, Canada’s Antibiotic Awareness Week, and World Antibiotic Awareness Week.

Each year in the United States, at least two million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection. The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs used in human medicine. However, up to 50% of all the antibiotics prescribed for people are not needed or are not optimally effective as prescribed. Antibiotics are also commonly used for promoting growth in food animals, one type of use that is not necessary.

The Florida Department of Health has partnered with CDC to improve antibiotic stewardship in communities, in healthcare facilities, and on the farm. Please use the resources listed on this page to educate yourself and others on the importance of using antibiotics wisely. Visit our Antimicrobial Resistance page to learn more. This page includes recordings of past webinars on antibiotic stewardship, strategies for preventing resistance, and links to other helpful resources.

  • For Patients/Families
  • For Healthcare Professionals

CDC is advising patients and their families to use antibiotics only when necessary to further reduce antibiotic resistance and the spread of superbugs. To kick off U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, CDC launched Be Antibiotics Aware, an educational effort to raise awareness about the importance of safe antibiotic prescribing and use.

The new Be Antibiotics Aware initiative educates the public about when antibiotics are needed, when they are not, how to take antibiotics appropriately and side effects.

CDC encourages patients and families to:

  • Get the facts about antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as colds and flu, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow or green. When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still hurt you.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about the best way to feel better while your body fights off a virus (pain relievers, fever reducers, saline nasal spray or drops, warm compresses, liquids, and rest may help).
  • If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics, or if you develop any of these side effects, especially diarrhea, since that could be a C. difficile (c. diff) infection, which needs to be treated.
  • Stay healthy and keep others healthy by cleaning hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccines, for the flu, for example.

Patients and families are encouraged to use the educational materials and learn more about Be Antibiotics Aware by visiting: www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use.

Key Messages

  • Antibiotics save lives. When a patient needs antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects or antibiotic resistance.
  • Antibiotics aren’t always the answer. Everyone can help improve antibiotic prescribing and use. Improving the way healthcare professionals prescribe antibiotics, and the way we take antibiotics, helps keep us healthy now, helps fight antibiotic resistance, and ensures that these life-saving antibiotics will be available for future generations.
  • Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as colds and flu, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow or green.
  • Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics also won’t help for some common bacterial infections including most cases of bronchitis, many sinus infections, and some ear infections.
  • An antibiotic will not make you feel better if you have a virus. Respiratory viruses usually go away in a week or two without treatment. Ask your healthcare professional about the best way to feel better while your body fights off the virus.
  • When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still hurt you. Side effects range from minor to very severe health problems. When you need antibiotics for an infection, then the benefits of the drug outweigh the risk of side effects.
  • Taking antibiotics creates resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria no longer respond to the drugs designed to kill them.
  • If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics, or if you develop any side effects, especially diarrhea, since that could be a C. difficile (c. diff) infection which needs to be treated.
  • Stay healthy and keep others healthy by cleaning hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccines, for the flu, for example.

Helpful Resources

CDC is urging healthcare professionals to prescribe antibiotics only when necessary to help fight antibiotic resistance and the spread of superbugs. To kick off U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, CDC launched Be Antibiotics Aware, an educational effort to raise awareness about the importance of safe antibiotic prescribing and use.

The new Be Antibiotics Aware initiative provides resources to help improve antibiotic prescribing among healthcare professionals, focusing on prescribing antibiotics only when needed, and at the right dose for the right duration and at the right time. 

CDC’s Be Antibiotics Aware educational effort encourages healthcare professionals to:

Follow clinical guidelines when prescribing antibiotics.

  1. Remember to prescribe the right antibiotic, at the right dose, for the right duration, and at the right time.
  2. Protect your patients. Only prescribe antibiotics when they are needed. You can do harm by prescribing antibiotics that aren’t needed.
  3. Tell your patients why they don’t need antibiotics for a viral infection, what to do to feel better, and when to seek care again if they don’t feel better.
  4. Talk to your patients and their families about possible harms from antibiotics, such as allergic reactions, C. difficile, and antibiotic-resistant infections.
  5. Watch for signs of sepsis, which can be life threatening. If you suspect sepsis, start antibiotics immediately. Signs include confusion or disorientation, shortness of breath, high heart rate, fever, or shivering or feeling very cold, extreme pain or discomfort, clammy or sweaty skin.   
  6. Follow hand hygiene and other infection prevention measures with every patient.   

Be Antibiotics Aware has resources to help healthcare professionals (in outpatient and inpatient settings) educate patients and families about antibiotic use and risks for potential side effects. For more information visit: www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use.

Key Messages

Outpatient

    1. Follow clinical guidelines when prescribing antibiotics.
    2. Remember to prescribe the right antibiotic, at the right dose, for the right duration, and at the right time.
    3. Protect your patients. Only prescribe antibiotics when they are needed. You can do harm by prescribing antibiotics that aren’t needed.
    4. Tell your patients why they don’t need antibiotics for a viral infection, what to do to feel better, and when to seek care again if they don’t feel better.
    5. Talk to your patients and their families about possible harms from antibiotics, such as allergic reactions, C. difficile, and antibiotic-resistant infections.
    6. Watch for signs of sepsis, which can be life threatening. If you suspect sepsis, start antibiotics immediately. Signs include confusion or disorientation, shortness of breath, high heart rate, fever, or shivering or feeling very cold, extreme pain or discomfort, clammy or sweaty skin.
    7. Follow hand hygiene and other infection prevention measures with every patient.

Inpatient (Hospitals) & Long-Term Care (Nursing Homes)

    1. Follow clinical guidelines when prescribing antibiotics.
    2. Always remember to prescribe the right antibiotic, at the right dose, for the right duration, and at the right time.
    3. Review antibiotic therapy 48 to 72 hours after it is started based on the patient’s/resident’s clinical condition and microbiology culture results, and stop or change antibiotic orders as needed—a critical step in care.
    4. Talk to patients/residents and families about when antibiotics are and are not needed, and discuss possible harms such as allergic reactions, C. difficile and antibiotic-resistant infections.
    5. Be aware of antibiotic resistance patterns in your facility and community; use the data to inform prescribing decisions.
    6. Follow hand hygiene and other infection prevention measures with every patient/resident.

Helpful Resources

*Note: This page contains materials in the Portable Document Format (PDF). The free Acrobat Reader may be required to view these files.