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A new study finds that Mississippi is among the top five states overusing antibiotics. Since 1999, the percentage of antibiotics prescribed nationwide has dropped by 17%, but certain areas of the country have made little progress and still show troubling rates of high antibiotic use. As a result, common infections are becoming more difficult to treat with currently available antibiotics. Unnecessary use makes antibiotics less effective in fighting off infections.

Researchers at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy found significant national and regional trends in the overuse of antibiotics between 1999 and 2010. The five states with the highest antibiotic use in the nation were Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The five states with the least antibiotic use were Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington. Residents of West Virginia and Kentucky, where antibiotic use rates are highest, take about twice as many antibiotics per capita as people living in Alaska and Hawaii.

Simple steps Mississippi residents can take to prevent overuse of antibiotics:

· Remember to get vaccinated (especially for the seasonal flu)

· Do not ask for antibiotics when your doctor doesn’t prescribe them – for you or for your child

· Be sure to take antibiotics exactly as prescribed. Do not skip doses and complete the full course of treatment

· Be diligent about hand hygiene

New findings suggest that certain types of bacteria responsible for causing urinary tract infections (UTIs), the second most common infection in the United States, are becoming more difficult to treat with current antibiotics. Researchers found that between 1999 and 2010, the available drugs used to treat UTIs were losing their overall effectiveness, and resistant bacteria increased by over 30%. Urinary tract infections account for about 8.6 million visits to health care providers each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than half of U.S. women will get a UTI in their lifetime.

The research is part of ResistanceMap, an online tool for tracking changes in drug resistance created by Extending the Cure (ETC), a project of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy. This year’s ResistanceMap will feature analysis using ETC’s Drug Resistance Index, a way for non-experts to track changes in antibiotic effectiveness over time.

ETC is releasing this year’s ResistanceMap on Tues., Nov. 13 in conjunction with the CDC’s “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week” (November 12-18, 2012). This research was funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). For more information, please visit www.extendingthecure.org or www.rwjf.org.

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