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Antimicrobial Resistance Monday


Antimicrobial resistance has been a widely discussed topic in the public health world over the past few years. From the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration's first-ever report of the amount of antimicrobials used in domestic food animal production (released in December 2010) to the World Health Organization's declaring the theme of this year's World Health Day April 7, 2011, as “Antimicrobial resistance and its global spread,” this topic is a significant concern to scientists, doctors, and consumers alike.

Antimicrobials, antibiotics being the most common, have greatly reduced infectious disease incidence and mortality since they were first used in the 1940s. However, their widespread overuse and misuse in both food animal production and human medicine have led to the adaptation of infectious microorganisms that are resistant to the very drugs trying to kill them. These “superbugs,” which include bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses, help spread infections rapidly and make antimicrobials ineffective. Experts fear that this increasingly dangerous problem could have dire consequences on worldwide health if it is not quickly and adequately addressed.

According to the CDC, below are some steps that every individual can take to help reduce the escalating problem of antimicrobial resistance through modifications in their own medication usage.

  • Only use antibiotics to treat bacterial infections and not viruses such as colds, influenza, sore throats (not caused by strep), runny noses, or most bronchitis. Be sure to take antibiotics only when prescribed by the doctor and take them exactly as directed, for the full length of the prescription. Even if you or your children are feeling better, ending treatment too soon can allow certain bacteria to survive and build up greater resistance to future medication.

  • Do not re-use leftover medications after your prescription course is complete. Drugs intended to combat certain infections at a different point in time can delay or inhibit treatment effectiveness.

  • Do not use medications intended for another individual; use only treatments prescribed for you specifically by your physician.

To learn more about antimicrobial resistance, visit the following:’s-share-of-antibiotics/

For more information on the WHO World Health Day 2011, visit:

Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.