CDC launches U.S. antibiotic awareness week

Nov. 20, 2019

U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week (USAAW) is an annual observance that highlights the steps everyone can take to improve antibiotic prescribing and use. The event is a collaboration of CDC, state-based programs, nonprofit partners, and for-profit partners that takes place from November 18-24. 

Antibiotics save lives and are critical tools for treating a number of common and more serious infections, like those that can lead to sepsis. However, at least 30 percent of the antibiotics in U.S. outpatient settings are prescribed unnecessarily. Any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance, one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health. 

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. Each year in the United States, more than 2.8 million infections from bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics occur and more than 35,000 people die as a direct result. Many more die from complications from antibiotic-resistant infections. 

U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week (USAAW) is an annual observance highlighting the importance of being Antibiotics Aware and the steps everyone can take to improve antibiotic use or prescribing. Improving the way healthcare professionals prescribe antibiotics, and the way patients take antibiotics, helps keep people healthy now, helps fight antibiotics resistance, and ensures that these life-saving drugs will be available for future generations. The CDC encourages healthcare professionals, patients, and families to learn more about antibiotic prescribing and use. 

The CDC’s educational effort, entitled “Be Antibiotics Aware: Smart Use, Best Care,” is a year-round effort to improve antibiotic prescribing and use and combat antibiotic resistance. The observance is an international collaboration, coinciding with European Antibiotic Awareness Day, Australia’s Antibiotic Awareness Week, Canada’s Antibiotic Awareness Week and World Antibiotic Awareness Week. 

Partner organizations—including federal agencies, health departments, professional societies, corporations, and advocacy groups—are critical to the success of U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week and to raising awareness about the importance of appropriate antibiotic use throughout the year. 

In the past, more than 300 organizations have participated in the observance in a variety of ways—from joining activities and events to using resources to post on websites, share on social media, distribute via newsletters and advertise. To order select free print resources, call 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit CDC-INFO on Demand – Publications and select “Antibiotic Use” from the Programs drop-down menu. Then click the “Search” button to view all available publications.

Visit the CDC to learn more