New Mexico Department of Health
Our mission is to promote health and wellness, improve health outcomes, and assure safety net services for all people in New Mexico.
Paul Rhien
505-470-2290 Office

Proper Antibiotic Use

November 16, 2017 - Public Relations - Awareness

Antibiotics save lives but any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance. At least 80 million antibiotic prescriptions each year are unnecessary, which makes improving antibiotic prescribing and use a national priority.The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in participating in US Antibiotic Awareness Week, November 13-19. Be Antibiotics Aware is an educational campaign that encourages patients, families and healthcare professionals to be aware of antibiotics by learning about safe antibiotic prescribing and use.

Antibiotics are a key tool in preventing, treating and eliminating bacterial diseases in both humans and animals. They are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics do not work against viral infections, such as the cold or flu.

“Remember, antibiotics save lives,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “When a patient needs antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance. Improving the way we take antibiotics helps keep us healthy now, helps fight antibiotic resistance, and ensures that life-saving antibiotics will be available for future generations”.

Anytime antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance when not taken appropriately. If antibiotics are not needed, they will not help with the cold or infection, and you could still have side effects from the medication. Common side effects range from rashes and yeast infections to severe health problems like Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), which can cause severe diarrhea that can lead to colon damage and death.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health. This occurs when bacteria are not stopped by the antibiotics designed to kill them. According to the CDC, each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with multi-drug resistant bacteria (resistant to 3 or more classes of antibiotics), and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.

Seven Ways to Be Antibiotics Aware

  1. Always remember to take antibiotics exactly as prescribed by a healthcare provider.
  2. Antibiotics are only useful for treating bacterial infections and NOT viral infections (e.g., cold, flu, or norovirus). Ask your healthcare provider about the best way to feel better while their body fights off the virus.
  3. Ask your healthcare provider if you have questions about the prescribed antibiotics or if you develop side effects.
  4. Do not share your antibiotics with others, including your pets.
  5. Do not stop taking or skip doses even if you are no longer sick.
  6. Do not save antibiotics for later use. Remember to complete the entire course of antibiotics even if you start to feel better.
  7. Avoid getting sick by washing your hands, covering your mouth while coughing, and remember to get the flu shot.

Learn More

Please visit the Antibiotic Prescribing and Use page to learn more.


Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact Paul Rhien at 505-470-2290 (Office) with your questions.


Versión en Español

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Uso Adecuado de Antibióticos