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    Health department celebrates annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week
    Focus is on overcoming bacteria’s increasing resistance to the drugs 
    Baltimore, MD (November 16, 2016) – Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces the effectiveness of antibiotics; it poses one of the most pressing public health threats. The Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a league of national and international partners, is observing the ninth annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week through November 20 to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use across all healthcare settings.
    “Maryland residents should remember that, every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed but resistant ones may be left to grow and to multiply,” said Dr. Howard Haft, Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services. “That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to only take antibiotics when they are needed.”
    Antibiotic use is the most important factor in antibiotic resistance, and between one-third and one-half of antibiotic use in humans is either unnecessary or inappropriate. Each year in the United States, 47 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are written in doctors’ offices, emergency rooms and hospital-based clinics – which make improving both antibiotic prescribing and use national priorities. To combat antibiotic resistance and to avoid adverse drug reactions, antibiotics must be used appropriately. This means using antibiotics only when needed and using them correctly.
    Get Smart About Antibiotics Week 2016 marks an important year nationally and here in Maryland. In the spring, Health and Mental Hygiene released the status report “Antibiotic Resistance in Maryland, Addressing the Urgent Threats,” a snapshot of the burden of resistance around the state and a call to action on this important public health threat. The full report can be found at https://goo.gl/Yt0mOi. The department also launched the Campaign for Appropriate Antibiotic Use (CAAUSE), a statewide collaborative of healthcare providers pledged to improve antibiotic prescribing in Maryland healthcare facilities. 
    Nationally, Congress allocated $160 million in new funding for CDC to implement its activities listed in the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB). CDC is using this funding to work with Maryland and other states to accelerate outbreak detection and prevention, support innovative research and to inform providers and the general public about antibiotic resistance and appropriate antibiotic use.
    The Get Smart About Antibiotics Week 2016 observance marks the second annual World Antibiotic Awareness Week, which coincides with European Antibiotic Awareness Day, Canada Antibiotic Awareness Week and other similar observances across the world. For additional information about Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work, please visitwww.cdc.gov/getsmart.