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Hoosiers Encouraged To Get Smart About Antibiotics
Updated November 15, 2016 6:47 AM | Filed under: Health
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - State health officials are raising awareness of antibiotic resistance and promoting the responsible use of antibiotics during the week of November 14-20, which Governor Mike Pence has proclaimed Get Smart About Antibiotics Week.

The campaign, now in its seventh year, is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiative. The effort coordinates work of CDC's Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work campaign and enlists states, nonprofit groups and for-profit partners to improve antibiotic stewardship in communities, in healthcare facilities and on the farm.

"Antibiotic resistance is a more pervasive threat than many people know," said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. "By prescribing antibiotics responsibly, healthcare providers can help ensure that patients with serious bacterial infections have access to effective, life-saving medications."

At least 2 million people in the United States become infected each year with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and an estimated 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections. Many others die from conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.

The CDC has deemed antibiotic resistance an urgent public health threat. According to the CDC, antibiotic use is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed medications, yet up to 50 percent of the antibiotics prescribed are for people for whom they aren't appropriate or effective.

Antibiotics treat bacteria, not viruses. Taking antibiotics for viral infections, such as a cold, the flu or most types of bronchitis, will not cure the infections, keep other individuals from catching the illness or help you feel better. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed increases the risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment.

If you are ill, a few days of rest may be all you need to take care of your illness. Before you take antibiotics for an infection, make sure you ask your healthcare provider if an antibiotic is necessary. If so, remember these important tips:

  • When you are prescribed an antibiotic, take it exactly as the doctor tells you.
  • Complete the prescribed course, even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you.
  • Get rid of any unused medication. Many pharmacies offer prescription take-back days or provide envelopes that can be used to mail unused medications to environmentally safe disposal facilities.
  • Do not share your antibiotics with others or take other people's antibiotics. Antibiotics can cause serious, and even life-threatening allergic reactions in some people.

State health officials are collaborating with several partners, including the Indiana Hospital Association, Indiana University Hospitals and Butler University, on a project to educate healthcare providers and their patients about the dangers of overprescribing and overusing antibiotics. The project includes an education booth at the Indianapolis Colts game against the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 20.

"I think the booth is a great way to get out there and educate the public about what antibiotic resistance is and the harm it can cause," said Kristen Nichols, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Butler University's College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and an infectious disease pharmacist at Riley Hospital for Children. "It is crucial to have this conversation, and not just when patients feel they need an antibiotic. Outreach like this allows us to inform people proactively."

To learn more about appropriate use of antibiotics, go to

Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at

Hoosiers who do not have health care coverage or access to a doctor are encouraged to check availability for the Healthy Indiana Plan--HIP 2.0--by visiting or calling 1-877-GET-HIP-9.

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