New York State Department of Health Recognizes Antibiotic Awareness Week

Antibiotics Treat Certain Bacteria But Not Viruses Like COVID, Flu, or RSV

Misuse of Antibiotics Can Create Antibiotic Resistance

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 20, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health recognizes U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, November 18-24, with a reminder to New Yorkers that the overuse and misuse of antibiotics can contribute to antibiotic resistance.

"Antibiotics are powerful medications, when used carefully, they save lives, and restore health and wellness," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "Antibiotics are not useful when someone has a viral infection and can cause harmful short- and long-term side effects. Take antibiotics as prescribed and only if indicated."

U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week is an annual observance that raises awareness for the importance of appropriate use of antibiotics (medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria). A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) educational effort, Be Antibiotics Aware, complements the awareness week by providing partners with up-to-date information to help improve antibiotic prescribing and use.

Antibiotics do not treat viruses, like the flu, RSV, COVID-19, or the common cold and are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance can occur when antibiotics are inappropriately prescribed, or when inappropriately used. When bacteria become resistant, antibiotics might no longer work, and infections can become difficult or impossible to treat. The CDC estimates that each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.

For tips on how to get involved during U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, see the CDC's "Be Antibiotics Aware Partner Toolkit."

More information about antibiotics and what conversations are good for patients to have with a health care provider can be found here.