School of Medicine Heads State Effort for National Antibiotic Awareness Campaign

October 2, 2009

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The second annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, a national awareness effort by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), will be held Oct. 5-9, and North Carolina’s program is being led by Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Get Smart About Antibiotics Week is an 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 (NC TARS), 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 for other pharmacy schools across the nation.

“The CDC annually reports that about 2 million people acquire bacterial infections every year, and thousands of deaths occur as a result,” Wallis said. “Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing public health problems, and we need more widespread awareness and action.”

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

“As we begin 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 months of October and November. The pharmacy school coalition was created by Wallis and is coordinated through NCTars. Its mission is to provide communities with information about antibiotic resistance and appropriate antibiotic use, Wallis said.

UNC Chapel Hill pharmacology students and residents will be participating in educational efforts in nine different Kerr drug stores in and around the Chapel Hill-Raleigh-Durham area. Their efforts will focus on appropriate antibiotic use and immunization education.

Campbell University School of Pharmacy will be making educational presentations to 10 different civic and community organizations.

Wingate University School of Pharmacy is also taking a very active role this year to educate the public in and around the Monroe-Charlotte area. They will be sending out 140 first- and second-year pharmacy students in groups of four to seven to participating pharmacies every week throughout the months of October and November.

“Because we are the pioneers of this type of statewide coalition, the CDC’s Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work campaign has asked NCTars and the N.C. Pharmacy School Coalition to develop guidance for the CDC to distribute nationally,” Wallis said. “This would provide a tool for other states to implement similar programs within their pharmacy school network.”

Wallis will be speaking on H1N1 flu and inappropriate antibiotic use at BestHealth on Dec. 15 at 11 a.m., Dec. 17 at 6 p.m., Jan. 11at 11 a.m. and Jan. 12 at 6 p.m.

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EDITORIAL NOTE:  News release has information involving pharmacology students from UNC Chapel Hill, Campbell University and Wingate University.


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