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Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria


How do bacteria become resistant?

  • Antibiotic medicines kill bacteria (germs) that cause infections in the body. Antibiotics do not work against bacteria that have become resistant.
  • When antibiotics are not used correctly, they may not kill all of the bacteria. The bacteria that an antibiotic does not kill can grow stronger. The antibiotic may not be able to kill the new germs. Germs can become resistant when the wrong type, wrong dose, or wrong treatment length of antibiotic is used. Germs can also become resistant to more than one type of antibiotic. This has made it harder to cure infections that were once easily treated.

Who has an increased risk for infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

  • People who have been in the hospital for a long time or who live in long-term care facilities
  • Children who have used antibiotics frequently
  • Older adults who have medical conditions that require other medicines
  • People who have tubes or lines in their body, such as IVs or catheters
  • People who have recently been treated with antibiotics
  • People who have a weak immune system

What are the risks of antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

People with infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria stay sick longer. Treatment requires more healthcare provider visits or longer hospital stays. Stronger antibiotic medicine may need to be given and this can cause worse side effects. Any delay in treatment can cause the infection to become worse. Even if the stronger antibiotics kill the bacteria, the infection can become life-threatening.

How can I help prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

  • Understand that antibiotics cannot cure many common illnesses. Your healthcare provider may not order antibiotics to treat you or your child. Antibiotics are not usually needed to treat many colds and ear infections.
  • Always take antibiotics exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. Ask when you should start to feel better. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your healthcare provider. Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed.
  • Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and hot water. Carry germ-killing gel with you. You can use the gel to clean your hands when you have no soap and water. Clean surfaces well. Clean counters, door knobs, bath tubs, and toilet seats. Ask your healthcare provider what kind of cleaner to use.

Further information

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta , GA 30333
    Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
    Web Address:

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You still have a fever, even after 3 days of antibiotic treatment.

Care Agreement

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