Fears about the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become a national concern, prompting President Barack Obama to dedicate this week to stopping the rise of the deadly bugs. During “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week,” the CDC and over 150 partners are taking to social media to discuss how to end the 2 million infections — and 23,000 deaths — that take place annually because of antibiotic resistance.
The resistant bacteria arise as antibiotics are increasingly overprescribed to treat infection. As more pathogens evolve to evade drugs, treatment could become impossible — even for minor infections.
Last year, the White House released its National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, which established goals emphasizing the “judicious” use of antibiotics in healthcare and agriculture. As laid out in the CDC’s map below, regulating prescription rates — which vary from 7 to 58 percent across states — is key to keeping the spread of the bugs in check.
It’s a big enough problem that the CDC managed to pull together over 150 partners from industry, government, and healthcare to contribute. All week, Walmart will be screening PSAs on proper antibiotic use in its checkout lines, as are airlines such as Jet Blue.
On Wednesday, the CDC will partner with the European Union, which will host its own 24-hour Antibiotic Awareness Day Twitter chat for global experts using the hashtag #AntibioticResistance.
Beating resistance will take a concerted effort by the physicians prescribing antibiotics and the patients taking them incorrectly. Preventing the rise of the deadly pathogens could be as simple as practicing proper hand-washing and getting vaccinated to avoid the need for antibiotics in the first place.