Thursday, March 06, 2014
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Misuse of antibiotics increases deadly superbugs

Illinois Department of Public Health at the forefront of antibiotic resistance battle

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[March 06, 2014]  SPRINGFIELD The Illinois Department of Public Health is tackling the overuse and misuse of antibiotics head-on. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently classified antibiotic resistance and associated superbugs as urgent public health threats. This week the CDC released its "Vital Signs" report to call for new attention and diligent efforts to address this issue.

"For years the Illinois Department of Public Health has been tracking superbugs like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and C. difficile (Clostridium difficile) and helping hospitals and nursing homes prevent the spread of these bacteria," said Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, IDPH director. "Now, in addition to stopping the spread of superbugs, IDPH is working with facilities to prevent the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, which contribute to antibiotic resistance and the increase of deadly superbugs."

MRSA, C. difficile and CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) are bacterial infections most commonly found among hospital patients and nursing home residents. Up to 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed in acute-care hospitals and up to 75 percent of antibiotics prescribed in long-term care facilities are unnecessary or inappropriate.

IDPH is at the forefront of promoting appropriate antibiotic use across health care settings. Efforts last year included:

  • Assisting 18 Illinois hospitals in developing an electronic means to report hospital antibiotic use data as part of a CDC pilot project, and continuing to work with some of those hospitals to identify areas of misuse and quality improvement.

  • Convening a statewide summit to engage hospitals, long-term care facilities and other health care professionals in talking about how to promote judicious antibiotic use.

  • Assessing what Illinois long-term care facilities were doing to improve prescribing and use of antibiotics and identifying what challenges they face.

  • In partnership with the state's Quality Improvement Organization, hosting monthly webinars for health care professionals, with topics focused on antibiotic use and prevention of health care-associated infections.

When it comes to health care-associated infections, CRE are of particular concern due to their resistance to "last-resort" antibiotics and their ability to transfer this resistance to other bacteria. To combat this, IDPH is launching a statewide "CRE Detect and Protect" education campaign to prevent CRE infections. IDPH will work with hospitals, long-term care facilities and laboratories to adopt the CDC strategy of detecting CRE and protecting patients through appropriate infection control and prevention measures.

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A statewide CRE Task Force comprised of infectious disease experts and created to help guide and provide input on IDPH's efforts held its first call earlier this month.

"The CRE Task Force was convened to decrease CRE in Illinois health care facilities across the spectrum of care. This statewide initiative is a collaboration of public health professionals, infection preventionists, academicians, microbiologists and informaticians to devise reasonable and effective interventions to track and mitigate the spread of these difficult-to-treat infections," said Dr. Stephanie Black, medical director of the communicable disease program of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Beginning in November 2013, IDPH required health care facilities and laboratories to report CRE to the Extensively Drug-Resistant Organism Registry. The registry aims to improve statewide tracking of CRE and communication between facilities during patient transfers.

More information about health care-associated infections and antibiotic resistance is available at

Providing health guidance and information to health professionals and the public aligns IDPH with its five-year strategy to become the state's trusted public health authority, a place where Illinoisans can turn for health information and education. For a copy of the department's 2014-2018 strategic plan, click here (PDF).

[Text from Illinois Department of Public Health file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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