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    State observes “Get Smart about Antibiotics” Week Nov. 16 through 22
    Antibiotic resistance is worsened through misuse, overuse of prescriptions

    Baltimore, MD (November 16, 2015) – This week, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene joins the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as many national and international partners, to observe the eighth annual “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week,” a weeklong initiative to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic prescribing and use. 

    “Maryland residents should remember that inappropriate use of antibiotics, such as for viral illnesses, contributes to antibiotic resistance and brings us closer to a world where antibiotics no longer work when we need them,” said Dr. Howard Haft, Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services at Health and Mental Hygiene.

    Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing public health threats. Antibiotic overuse increases the development of drug-resistant germs. Everyone – including healthcare providers, hospital administrators, policy makers and especially patients – must work together to reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics. 

    In 2013, the CDC released “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States,” snapshot of the burden of resistance around the country and a call to action on this important public health threat. The CDC estimates that antibiotic resistance causes more 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths each year in the United States. This translates to approximately 36,000 illnesses and more than 400 deaths in Maryland each year because of antibiotic resistance. To read the full report, visit http://goo.gl/d7bYIG.

    The way we use antibiotics today directly impacts how effective they will be tomorrow, and the way we use them in one patient can directly impact how effective they will be in another patient; they are a shared resource. Antibiotic resistance is not just a problem for the person with an infection. Some resistant bacteria have the potential to spread to other patients – promoting antibiotic-resistant infections.

    Viruses cause many common illnesses that antibiotics CANNOT treat – including:

    • Colds
    • Influenza/ the flu (which is treatable with antiviral medications)
    • Runny noses
    • Most coughs
    • Most bronchitis
    • Most sore throats
    • Most sinus infections and
    • Some ear infections

    Viral illnesses, like colds, usually go away in a week or two without treatment. Even many bacterial ear infections go away by themselves. Ask your doctor or your child’s pediatrician what can be used to relieve symptoms.  

    Patients also should keep in mind that taking antibiotics comes with a risk of side effects. Antibiotic use can:

    • Kill good bacteria in your body, which might lead to complications such as C. difficile, diarrhea cases or yeast infections.
    • Cause a serious allergic reaction that might require hospitalization.
    • Cause other side effects such as rash or gastrointestinal upset
    • Result in an antibiotic-resistant infection. Resistant bacteria are stronger and harder to kill. They stay in your body and can cause severe illnesses that cannot be cured by antibiotics. A cure for a resistant infection might require stronger treatment- and possibly a hospital stay.  

    Therefore, antibiotics should only be used when truly necessary. To learn more about the CDC’s Get Smart about Antibiotics campaign for patients, visit http://goo.gl/Y9opSj. To learn more about the CDC’s Get Smart about Antibiotics campaign for healthcare professionals, visit http://goo.gl/pn2xQc




    The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is the state government agency that protects Maryland’s public health and also works to help Marylanders make better health decisions for better health outcomes. Stay connected: www.twitter.com/MarylandDHMH and www.facebook.com/MarylandDHMH. ​