Antibiotic Awareness is Focus of National Effort

September 29, 2008

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The first Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, a national awareness effort to coordinate efforts of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), will be held Oct. 6-10, and North Carolina’s program is being led by Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Get Smart About Antibiotics Week is the first effort to coordinate the work of the CDC’s Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work campaign with other partners during a one-week observance of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use.

Michelle Wallis is the program manager for North Carolina Taking Antibiotic Resistance Seriously (NCTARS), which is based out of the medical school’s Infectious Disease Section. She is coordinating North Carolina’s statewide awareness efforts and is also serving as the national activities coordinator.

“The CDC recently reported that 2 million people acquire hospital bacterial infections every year, and 90,000 of those people die as a result,” Wallis said. “This is one of the world’s most pressing public health problems, and we need more widespread awareness and action.”

Other organizations that are coordinating efforts for this week’s observance include the Food and Drug Administration, Infectious Disease Society of America, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Public Health Association among many others.

Wallis said the objectives for the week include increasing the knowledge of the general public and hopefully modifying people’s attitudes and behaviors about the appropriate use of antibiotics. With more education, the long-term goals are to decrease the demand for antibiotics for upper respiratory infections, decrease unnecessary prescribing, and decrease sharing or saving of previously prescribed antibiotics.

Wallis will be speaking on this topic at BestHealth on Monday, Oct. 6, at 10:30 a.m. and again on Thursday, Oct. 9 at 6 p.m.

“As we are approaching cold and flu season, NCTARS will be coordinating the annual N.C. Pharmacy School Coalition effort to educate the state’s communities about the seriousness of antibiotic resistance and appropriate antibiotic use when an antibiotic is needed,” Wallis said.

Every October all three of the state’s pharmacy schools participate in an effort of their choosing, educating the communities within close proximity to each university. These activities will take place throughout the month of October. NCTARS is the creator and coordinator of the N.C. Pharmacy School Coalition, said Wallis, and its mission is to provide communities with information about antibiotic resistance and appropriate antibiotic use.

Locally, the public will see this in action at the Dixie Classic Fair on Saturday, Oct. 4, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., when pharmacology students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will be on hand to offer information and counseling about antibiotic resistance and appropriate antibiotic use, while conducting “Operation Immunization” to give flu shots. The UNC students will also provide the same type of “Get Smart about Antibiotics” education and flu shots at the State Fair in Raleigh, Oct. 21 – 25 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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Media Relations Contacts: Bonnie Davis,, (336) 716-4977; or Shannon Koontz,, at (336) 716-4587.

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