This year, Antibiotic Awareness Week is Nov. 13-19. Maine CDC would like to educate you on the importance of this topic and how you can protect yourself.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most serious health threats. AR happens when bacteria change in response to an antibiotic drug. This causes the antibiotic to stop working. Doctors are running out of options to treat certain infections.

One of the major causes of AR is the overuse of antibiotics. Patients that are already sick or have had multiple courses of antibiotics are at the highest risk. People that have weak immune systems, like babies and older adults, are also at a higher risk. However, AR can affect anyone at any age.

Without effective antibiotics, doctors may not be able to treat simple infections. Action needs to happen to slow AR.

You can take these steps to protect yourself:

• Talk to your doctor about when antibiotics will and will not help.

• Ask about AR.

• Ask what infection an antibiotic is treating, how long they are needed, and what side effects might happen.

• Take antibiotics only when and exactly as prescribed.

• Don’t save an antibiotic for later or share the drugs with others.

• Wash your hands.

• Stay up to date on your vaccinations.

• Cook foods to the right temperature.

• Refrigerate foods properly.

We all play a role in the fight to save these lifesaving medications. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/index.html.

Jennifer Liao, PharmD
Antibiotic Resistance Coordinator
Maine Center for Disease Control