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Editorial: Resistance to antibiotics a continual concern

State health officials are calling attention to the threat of antibiotic resistance as a critical public health and patient care and safety issue.

Centers for Disease Control released a report that describes antimicrobial resistance accounting for 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths each year in the United States. In addition, illness caused by the bacteria Clostridium difficile, which is associated with antibiotic use, accounts for 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths nationally. CDC estimates that up to 50 percent of all the antibiotics prescribed for people are not needed or are not prescribed appropriately.

This is a reminder that antibiotics should only be used when needed.

Minnesota’s work falls in line with CDC’s strategy of employing four core actions to combat the threat of antibiotic resistance:

n Prevent infections and prevent the spread of resistance.

n Track antibiotic resistant infections, causes of infections and risk factors.

n Improve antibiotic use and stewardship.

n Encourage the research and development of new antibiotics and diagnostic tests.

Some steps that all Minnesotans can take include:

n Use antibiotics only when needed. Do not pressure your doctor for antibiotics. They do not work for infections that are not bacterial.

n If you are given antibiotics, take as directed. Do not save your antibiotics for another illness.

n Promote the use of infection prevention interventions, such as vaccines, good hand washing and safe food handling.

More information on antibiotic resistance can be found on the MDH website at