Maine CDC Press Release

November 19, 2010

Week Raises Awareness of Antibiotic Resistance

Stephen Sears, MD, MPH
(207) 287-5183

AUGUSTA - This week marks the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s third annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. The goal is to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use.

According to the U.S. CDC, more infections worldwide are resistant to many antibiotics, creating one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.

Whenever a person takes an antibiotic, weaker bacteria are destroyed while stronger (more resistant) bacteria are left behind to grow and can cause infections that are hard to treat, said Dr. Stephen Sears, State Epidemiologist with the Maine Center for Disease and Prevention. Bacteria that cause common diseases are resistant to many antibiotics, due mostly to antibiotics being taken when not needed.

“Using antibiotics appropriately is the best way to keep “bad” bacteria under control,” Sears said. “Antibiotics are truly wonderful medicines but if they do not stay effective we will not be able to treat the infections that plague people.”

This is especially true for antibiotic use in children because they are given antibiotics most often. If antibiotics don’t work, infections last longer, resulting in more doctor visits and longer hospital stays. This is costly and can lead to the use of higher priced, stronger antibiotics.

On November 12 and 13, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, along with Maine Hospital Association, Dirigo Health, and Northeast Health Care Quality Foundation, supported training at the Augusta Civic Center for teams of doctors and pharmacists from Maine hospitals. During the two day program, led by the New York State Council of Health System Pharmacists, the hospital teams learned how to manage the use of antibiotics most effectively while minimizing the potential of creating drug resistance in their hospitals. Teams from more than 30 Maine hospitals participated.

Last week’s program supported the effort of Maine hospitals to reduce infections. The hospitals have been working together and with their partners through the Maine Infection Prevention Collaborative to lower infection rates.