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CDC: Get Smart about Antibiotics Week

graphic of antibiotic misuse   Courtesy of: CDC
graphic of antibiotic misuse Courtesy of: CDC
November 13, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It's "Get Smart About Antibiotics Week." The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and doctors are working hard to remind patients of the dangers of overusing antibiotics. Physician Jason Newland directs the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics. He says antibiotic resistance has become a serious problem he sees firsthand.

"When we have had resistant infection in the past, it has always been, 'Well, there's always another antibiotic that'll work.' I've taken care of patients in the past couple of years who have had resistant infections to everything that we have. What do you do next?"

What Newland says people should not do is demand antibiotics every time they get a sore throat or runny nose. He adds that farmers should not overuse antibiotics on their livestock, which is seen as a contributing factor to the problem of "superbugs" that can't be treated.

For patients who demand antibiotics when they don't need them, the CDC is urging doctors to write out a kind of prescription for treatments that can be purchased over the counter so that the patients feel as if there is something they can do.

Newland says taking a pill isn't always the answer. He says hand washing goes a long way in controlling the spread of resistant bacteria.

"Some of the simplest quality-improvement projects that have been done, even recently, have included, 'Let's do a better job of washing our hands.' And guess what? Their rates of infection go down."

The CDC says that Americans spend more than $1 billion a year on unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions.

More information is available at www.cdc.gov.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - MO