LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (November 16, 2017) -- Arkansas was the sixth highest state in the U.S for antibiotic prescribing in 2014. High rates of antibiotic use can lead to antibiotic resistance, so it is important for antibiotics to be prescribed and used correctly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 2 million people will develop an antibiotic resistant infection in the United States each year. Of those, 23,000 people will die from the infection.

“Appropriate antibiotic use is key for our health,” said Dr. Gary Wheeler, Chief Medical Officer for the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). “If we overuse or misuse them, they eventually will no longer be effective against bacterial infections. Antibiotic-resistant infections are being seen more and more around the world, and even in Arkansas. Healthcare providers and patients must change the way we prescribe and use antibiotics.”

During the fall and winter months, there is an increase in the number of flu and other viral infections. Anti-bacterial antibiotics do not work to fight viral infections. Visit a doctor to determine if an antibiotic is needed to treat an infection that you, your child, or a loved one may have.

“Not only is antibiotic resistance harmful to human health, but it also affects animal health as well,” said ADH State Public Health Veterinarian, Dr. Susan Weinstein, who works closely with One Health Arkansas to bridge the gap between human and animal health in Arkansas. “The worldwide animal industry is estimated to use more tons of antibiotics than human medicine does, but has taken major steps to limit antibiotic use to only sick animals, rather than to promote weight gain. The ‘Get Smart on the Farm’ program from CDC and other partners offer a web-based learning site with education materials on animal health and antibiotic resistance.”

The promotion of smart use of antibiotics is a priority in Arkansas and worldwide. ADH, the Arkansas Association of Health-System Pharmacists, the University of Arkansas for Medical Science College of Pharmacy, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, Arkansas Medicaid, and the Arkansas Hospital Association have partnered with the CDC to promote the newly-designed “Be Antibiotics Aware” week November 13-19. Formerly known as “Get Smart Week,” “Be Antibiotics Aware” brings attention to antibiotic resistance and the importance of correct antibiotic use.

Governor Asa Hutchinson has declared November as Clostridium difficile (C. diff) Awareness Month. In 2016, there were over 2,400 reports of C. diff infections from hospitalized patients in Arkansas. C. diff can be deadly and primarily affects people that have recently taken a course of antibiotics. Correct antibiotic use and good hand washing reduce C. diff infections.

Antibiotics are powerful, live-saving drugs. Everyone can play a part to make sure they are prescribed and used correctly, so that they continue to work for patients when antibiotics are needed. For more information, visit