CDC antibiotic resistance

A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that million people in the U.S. every year get infections that are resistant to antibiotics. Photo by CDC

If you’re an American you’ve probably taken an antibiotic, and there’s a 50 percent chance you’ve done so when it was not necessary. According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overuse of antibiotics is not just unnecessary — it’s fatal.

The report details stunning facts about “antimicrobial resistance,” or germs that cannot be treated by antibiotics. Every year, 2 million people in the U.S. get infections that are resistant to antibiotics and 23,000 die as a result.

Additionally, while these infections can happen anywhere, CDC reports that most deaths related to antibiotic resistance are picked up in healthcare settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes.

“Antibiotics are a precious national resource,” CDC Director Tom Frieden wrote. “Saving antibiotics won’t be easy, but we now know how to prevent and reverse antibiotic resistance — we just need to do it. There’s still time. But not much time.”

To prevent antibiotic resistance, CDC identified four core actions that must be taken, including:

  • preventing infections, thus preventing the spread of resistance;
  • tracking data on causes of infections and risk factors that cause people to get resistant infections;
  • using antibiotics more smartly; and
  • developing drugs and diagnostic to monitor resistant bacteria.

Routine use of antibiotics among animals, particularly use to promote growth in food animals, should be phased out, according to the report

Find out how you can protect yourself against drug-resistant infections at CDC online.