CDC says, 'Snort Sniffle Sneeze: No Antibiotics Please'

CDC researcher Kitty Anderson examines samples of bacteria. (Photo courtesy of CDC)

Just wipe your nose and stop whining.

Don't run to the doctor and demand that she or he give you a prescription for antibiotics just because you have the sniffles. Drink more water and get a good night's sleep.

If you keep using the antibiotics for middling, run-of-the-mill problems like a runny nose, they might not work when you develop a really nasty infection after landing in the emergency room with some horrible injury and a surgeon has to put your organs and limbs back in their proper places.

That was the gist of Monday's multi-media warning from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With people (and a few animal breeders) overusing antibiotics, the germs develop resistance to the antibiotics. That's bad for humans, including animal breeders. The CDC says 23,000 Americans die each year because of problems related to antibiotic resistance.

The main CDC web site with this package is here.

The 114-page report entitled "Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013," is here.

The video that goes with our favorite headline - Snort Sniffle Sneeze: No Antibiotics Please - is below.

The CDC says that essentially half - yes half - of the antibiotic use is inappropriate.

The CDC decided that four core actions must be taken to combat antibiotic resistance:

1) Preventing Infections, Preventing the Spread of Resistance: Avoiding infections in the first place reduces the amount of antibiotics that have to be used and reduces the likelihood that resistance will develop during therapy;

2) Tracking: CDC gathers data on antibiotic-resistant infections, causes of infections and whether there are particular reasons (risk factors) that caused some people to get a resistant infection;

(Brief PhillyPharma interruption: We have have no indication that the National Security Agency is involved in No. 2, but if the Pirates are still in a Major League Baseball pennant race this late in the season, anything is possible. We resume our discussion now.)

3) Improving Antibiotic Use/Stewardship: Perhaps the single most important action needed to greatly slow the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant infections is to change the way antibiotics are used;

4) Development of Drugs and Diagnostic Tests: Because antibiotic resistance occurs as part of a natural process in which bacteria evolve, we will always need new antibiotics to keep up with resistant bacteria as well as new diagnostic tests to track the development of resistance.

Though taxpayers dollars, routed through the National Institutes of Health, get a lot of research started for drug companies, those companies usually make more money by selling more drugs for any ailment, not less.

We asked about this seeming divergence of incentives.

"We have a partnership with industry," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said on a conference call with reporters. "We want to make sure that the medicines they bring to market remain viable. There is an alignment of interests there."