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September 25, 2008

Public Health Issue




Dear Mayor:

We have been asked by the Department of Health and Senior Services to share, with you, the following letter. Please share this information with your Health Officer and others involved in Public Health issues.

Thank you.


                                                                        Very truly yours,


                                                                        William G. Dressel, Jr.
                                                                        Executive Director


Be Prepared!  CDC Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, October 6-11, 2008

Even though prescribing rates have decreased, more than ten million courses of antibiotics are prescribed each year for viral conditions in humans that do not benefit from antibiotics.  Antimicrobial resistance among respiratory pathogens has become a common clinical problem.  The Institute of Medicine has identified antibiotic resistance as one of the key microbial threats to health in the United States and has listed decreasing the inappropriate use of antimicrobials as a primary solution to address this threat. For this reason, antibiotic resistance is among the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s top concerns.

Get Smart About Antibiotics Week: Campaign Overview

October 6-11, 2008, is Get Smart About Antibiotics Week.  Both the CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) will be running an educational campaign during the week to increase awareness and hopefully modify behaviors regarding appropriate antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance.  The campaign targets both the general public and health-care providers. As a result, health-care providers should be prepared to answer questions about appropriate use of antibiotics, the role that antibiotics play in antibiotic resistance, and what is being done to prevent antimicrobial resistance.

Key Messages of Get Smart About Antibiotics Week

Annually CDC provides key messages to communicate during the week-long “Get Smart About Antibiotics” campaign. NJDHSS supports these concepts and uses them as the focus for materials and activities.  These are:

  • Sometimes the best medicine is no medicine at all (at least not antibiotics)
  • Antibiotics do not treat viral illnesses like colds and sore throat (except strep throat)
  • Overuse of antibiotics creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria
  • When prescribed antibiotics, use them properly–—Only use antibiotics prescribed to you, follow the instructions, take all the antibiotics even if you feel better, don’t share    antibiotics with anyone, and properly disposed of unused and expired antibiotics (empty medications into the trash, not into toilets).

 CDC’s National Campaign to Promote Judicious Antibiotic Use: A Brief History

CDC launched the “National Campaign for Appropriate Antibiotic Use in the Community” in 1995. In 2003, this program was renamed “Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work” in conjunction with the launch of a national media campaign. The target audiences for this campaign include patients and providers since knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors of both contribute to antibiotic prescribing and antibiotic use. The campaign’s goal is to reduce the rate of rise of antibiotic resistance by:

  1. promoting adherence to appropriate prescribing guidelines among providers,
  2. decreasing demand for antibiotics for viral upper respiratory infections among healthy adults and parents of young children, and
  3. increasing adherence to proper use of prescribed antibiotics.
What You Can Do Now

You can help combat antimicrobial resistance by supporting education efforts that promote appropriate therapeutic antimicrobial use.  Links to resources aimed at promoting appropriate antibiotic use are available at  

Additional Information/Resources

For more information on the “Get Smart” campaign, including educational materials, visit the following CDC websites: information and links to other resources are available at the NJDHSS website,  If you have questions about the “Get Smart” campaign or would like to order materials (first come, first serve), please contact NJDHSS at (609) 588-7500.

Corey Robertson, M.D., M.P.H.
Medical Director
Emerging Infectious Diseases



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