This week, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services officials are joining with other national organizations like the Centers for Disease Control to try to help educate the public about antibiotics. Communicable Disease Epidemiologist Erika Baldry explains.

“This week from November 12 to the 18 is U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week,” Baldry said. “We are trying to raise awareness about the importance or appropriate antibiotics. Antibiotics resistance has become a public health threat and the best way to combat that is through antibiotic stewardship.”

Obviously, doctors and Nurse practitioners that prescribe antibiotics play a huge role in the overuse of antibiotics but every patient also plays a role.

“As an individual you know if you are sick and you go into the doctor’s office, you may want to have something that is going to make you feel better right away,” Baldry said. “Antibiotics are not always the answer and they are not always the right tool. If you have a virus such as influenza, antibiotics are not going to help you feel any better any faster. That is why it is so important to have the conversation with your healthcare provider.”

Antibiotic overuse can lead to antibiotic resistance which can and does pose a very dangerous threat to human life. According to federal statistics, antibiotic resistance leads to tens of thousands of deaths in the United States every year.