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For Release: Nov. 10, 2011 – Pamela Williams, Office of Communications – (405) 271-5601

State Health Officials Encourage Appropriate Antibiotic Use

“Get Smart About Antibiotics Week” is a national campaign occurring Nov. 14-20, and is designed to highlight the efforts of federal, state and local partners in educating Americans about the seriousness of appropriate antibiotic use.  The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) encourages Oklahomans to follow appropriate antibiotic use strategies to ensure safe and effective medical care of infectious diseases.

Antibiotics are powerful medications that can save lives when used correctly.  Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses. Viruses cause colds, influenza and most sore throats, and antibiotics simply are not an appropriate course of treatment for these illnesses.  When antibiotics are used inappropriately, they can result in antibiotic resistance or even serious side effects such as allergic reactions, causing thousands of emergency room visits each year. 

Today, infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become increasingly common in both healthcare and community settings.  Antibiotic use can also lead to infection with Clostridium difficile, a serious and sometimes fatal condition.  Treatment of illnesses caused by Clostridium difficile or other antibiotic-resistant organisms can result in lengthy and repeated treatments and hospitalizations.

While inpatient and outpatient settings along with nursing homes and long-term care facilities need to focus on antibiotic use, the general public also needs to be familiar with the importance of appropriate antibiotic use.  Patients, health care providers, hospital administrators, and policy makers must work together to utilize safe and effective programs to insure appropriate antibiotic use.

The OSDH encourages individuals to use the following appropriate antibiotic use strategies:

  • Take the antibiotic exactly as the doctor prescribes. Do not skip doses. Complete the prescribed course of treatment, even if you start feeling better.
  • Only take antibiotics prescribed for you; do not share or use leftover antibiotics. Antibiotics treat specific types of infections. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to multiply.
  • Avoid saving antibiotics for the next illness. Discard any leftover medication once the prescribed course of treatment is completed.
  • Prevent infections by practicing good hand hygiene and getting recommended vaccines.
  • Do not ask for antibiotics when your doctor thinks you do not need them. Remember antibiotics have side effects. When your doctor says you don’t need an antibiotic, taking one may do more harm than good.

For more information regarding the “Get Smart About Antibiotics Campaign” and prevention of infectious diseases, please visit health.ok.gov or www.cdc.gov/getsmart/index.html.





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