What is an antibiotic?

An antibiotic is a medication that can either kill or cease bacterial growth. A common example is amoxicillin.

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What is antibiotic resistance?

Fun Fact: PEOPLE cannot become resistant to antibiotics, but BACTERIA can! 

Antibiotic resistance is when an antibiotic kills off non-resistant cells, allowing spontaneous resistant mutants  to flourish. These resistant mutants render the antibiotic useless in treating infection.

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How does resistance happen?

Resistance is most likely to occur when an antibiotic has been overused, as the bacteria has more time to adapt and counteract the effects of the antibiotic. If antibiotics are used when they aren't needed, then resistant strains have more of an opportunity to grow and spread. For example, antibiotics are not effective at treating viral infections but are often prescribed when similar symptoms to bacterial infections arise. 

View a PDF version of the infographic at right here.

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How can this be prevented?

The best way to prevent further spread of resistant bacteria strains is to take antibiotics only when they are absolutely necessary. When prescribed with an antibiotic, take the full prescription - even when symptoms have stopped, not all of the infection-causing bacteria may have been killed. Antibiotics don't relieve symptoms for common colds and the flu, as they are viral infections! When diagnosed with a viral infection, ask your physician for tips to feel better as the virus usually runs its course in a couple weeks.

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What does it mean to be a "steward?"

To be an antibiotic steward is to educate yourself and others about the proper use of antibiotics in order to ensure bacterial infections are treated effectively and cases of resistant infections are limited. 

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How can I prevent infections of resistant bacteria?

There are many easy ways to protect you and your family against resistant infections. A few important actions you can take right now include:

  • Ask questions of your healthcare provider when you have concerns!

  • Clean your hands frequently

  • Get vaccinated

  • Prepare food safely

To learn more about ways you can protect yourself from resistant bacteria, visit the CDC website here.

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When should I use antibiotics?

Antibiotics are effective treatments for bacterial infections only. Communicate openly with your physician about your symptoms and early signs of infection to determine if an antibiotic is the appropriate form of treatment.

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What is "One Health?"

The One Health perspective on antimicrobial resistance takes into account the interactions of antibiotics with humans, animals and the environment and examines how the interaction of these three factors contribute to increased resistance.

The interconnectivity of human, animal, and environmental health is crucial to antimicrobial stewardship. The PCAS Core Team is comprised of experts in each of these areas to effectively  explore, communicate, and prevent the spread of resistant bacteria.

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How does antibiotic resistance relate to the environment?

The environment is directly affected when antibiotics are improperly disposed of and trace amounts end up in wastewater or landfills. Even humans or animals that have taken antibiotics can inadvertently contribute to environmental contamination through urine or stool as the medication is not completely used by the body.

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How does antibiotic resistance relate to animals?

Animals (especially food animals) are susceptible to bacterial infections just like humans. Antibiotics can be misused in pets and food animals and contribute to the emergence of resistant bacteria that can transfer to humans. Having open communication with your veterinarian about what you can do for your pets' health can help limit resistance.

For more information visit the USDA website.

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