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NC Division of Public Health
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Diseases & Topics

Antibiotic Resistance & Appropriate Antibiotic Use

Did You Know?

  • Antibiotic resistance – when bacteria stop responding to the drugs designed to kill them – may be the single most important infectious disease threat of our time.
  • We risk turning back the clock to a world where simple infections can kill people as they did a century ago because we have no way to treat them.
  • Antibiotics are the most important tool we have to combat many life-threatening bacterial diseases.
  • Patients, healthcare providers, hospital administrators, and policy makers must work together to employ effective strategies for improving appropriate antibiotic use – ultimately saving lives.

We Are Antibiotics Aware Antibiotic resistance is a substantial threat to public health in the United States. Already more than 2.8 million people in this country get infections that are resistant to antibiotics every year – and at least 35,000 people die as a result. C difficile, which is almost always caused by antibiotic use and often misuse, kills at least another 15,000 Americans a year.

Overuse of antibiotics is a major reason for the current crisis in antibiotic resistance. For example, approximately 50 percent of upper respiratory tract infections and 80 percent of acute bronchitis episodes are treated with antibiotics, although antibiotics – designed to kill bacteria – have little impact on these predominantly viral illnesses. This has contributed to the alarmingly rapid rise in antibiotic-resistant  bacteria in North Carolina and throughout the U.S.

To limit antibiotic resistance, DPH is warning the public and providers to be aware that:

  • Antibiotics do not cure viruses, such as those causing colds or flu, most coughs and bronchitis, runny nose, and sore threats not caused by strep.
  • Increased antibiotic resistance is compromising the effectiveness of antibiotics.
  • Patients, healthcare providers, hospital administrators and policy makers must work together to employ effective strategies for improving appropriate antibiotic use - ultimately saving lives.

What To Do:

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about antibiotic resistance.
  • Ask your doctor what over-the-counter drugs can help with symptom relief.
  • Take a course of antibiotics exactly as the doctor prescribes. Never take antibiotics that were prescribed for someone else.
  • Complete the prescribed course of antibiotics, even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you.
  • If you or a loved one is in a hospital or other health care facility, make sure those caring for you have washed their hands properly and ask your health care providers what they are doing to prevent you from getting an infection.

For Additional Information