Monday, November 15, 2010

It's Time to Get Smart About Antibiotics

This guest blog was written by Jean Patel , PhD, D(ABMM), Deputy Director, Office of Antimicrobial Resistance for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

When I began my career in antimicrobial resistance at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cephalosporin-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus were the focus of attention . In a few short years, bacterial pathogens have continued to outwit us by changing their genetic make-up enough to survive nearly all antibiotics that might be considered for treatment.

In the past 10 years, carbapenems have been the “drugs of last resort” for Enterobacteriaceae. However, today we have identified carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), which carry an enzyme called the Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC), in at least 35 states and globally. Most recently, CRE with new mechanisms of resistance (called NDM-1 and VIM) were also identified in the United States.

Now is the time for action. Antibiotics are a shared resource – and becoming a scarce resource. Appropriate use of existing antibiotics can limit the spread of antibiotic resistance, preserving antibiotics for the future.

On November 15-18, 2010, CDC and our partners will observe Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, in an effort to focus attention on improving antibiotic use as a key effort to reduce antibiotic resistance. The U.S. observance will coincide with the European and Canadian antibiotic awareness days, November 18, 2010. In conjunction with Get Smart Week 2010, CDC will unveil its new Get Smart for Healthcare campaign focused on improving antibiotic use in hospitals and long-term care facilities. Improving antibiotic use in in-patient settings can improve cure rates and reduce Clostridium difficile.

Together, we can address this global resistance threat. By leveraging our collective resources towards preserving these vital therapies for the future, we can protect patients and save lives.


  1. Thanks, Jean. To add to this, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported today that NDM-1 has now been detected in 13 European countries and is being referred to as a "super super bug".

  2. CDC is to be congratulated on energized and well-designed efforts to address appropriate use of antibiotics in the community as well as in healthcare facilities. As we still cope with challenges from MRSA, we are becoming more aware of CRE emergence in healthcare facilities in the Commonwealth. This, and the continued increases in antimicrobial resistance observed in pneumococci, gonococci and M. tuberculosis, bring to the fore the need for a broad mobilization of public and healthcare partners in renewed efforts to address both the causes and consequences of antimicrobial resistance.