In preparation for U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week for November 18th to the 24th the Illinois Department of Public Health is gearing up for an expansive campaign aimed at increasing public awareness about the critical issue of antimicrobial resistance. The dynamic effort encompasses strategic public outreach and uses social media platforms to distribute key information.
IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra describes the importance of careful antibiotic use, emphasizing that while antibiotics play a crucial role in combating infections, their misuse can lead to unintended consequences, including the appearance of drug-resistant illnesses. Dr. Vohra urges the public to utilize antibiotics only when necessary and to adhere diligently to prescribed instructions.
The Centers for Disease Control has created a chart to explain the proper uses of antibiotic treatment for respiratory infections. There are five common infections that do not require antibiotics: The common cold or runny nose, sore throat that is not strep throat, Covid-19, the flu, and bronchitis or chest cold in individuals who are otherwise healthy. Viruses or bacteria that fall into the “maybe” category for antibiotics include a middle ear infection and a sinus infection. And for types of bacteria that require antibiotics, strep throat and whooping cough need extra attention.
In collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthcare professionals are encouraged to prescribe antibiotics thoughtfully. The focus is on engaging patients in meaningful conversations about the limited effectiveness of antibiotics in treating viral respiratory infections and guiding them toward alternative approaches for improved well-being.
U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week also advocates for the integration of proper hygiene practices as a pivotal element in reducing infections and preventing antimicrobial resistance. Recommendations include regular hand-washing with soap and water, use of hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol, practicing proper cough and sneeze etiquette, staying home when sick, and ensuring receipt of recommended vaccines, such as flu and COVID shots.
Supporting these initiatives is IDPH's unwavering commitment to collaborative action, as outlined in the 2024-2029 Illinois Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance. This comprehensive plan targets the improvement of antibiotic prescribing practices across all healthcare settings and aims to heighten public awareness of appropriate antibiotic use.
IDPH will continue its strong support for antimicrobial stewardship by providing a spectrum of resources and technical assistance to healthcare facilities and prescribers. This includes a series of regional workshops, webinars, toolkits, and collaborative initiatives designed to empower healthcare professionals with the necessary knowledge and tools.
For those interested in learning more about these efforts, a wealth of information is available on the IDPH Antimicrobial Stewardship resource page at dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/patient-safety-quality/antimicrobial-stewardship.html.