Today (Wednesday) marked the end of Antibiotic Awareness Week, and state health officials are reminding Iowans of the importance of avoiding unnecessary use. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 28 percent of antibiotics prescribed in outpatient settings are not needed. Not only do antibiotics come with side-effects, albeit generally minor ones, but they can also lead to antibiotic resistance, which is considered by many as one of the top threats to public health. More than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection are identified each year in the U.S. and are responsible for about 35,000 deaths. For example, 223,900 cases of C. difficile, which is just one of several resistant bacterial strains, were identified nationwide in 2017. Approximately 5.7 percent of those patients died despite receiving treatment. In an effort to fight antibiotic resistance, the IDPH and CDC are partnering in an effort to educate doctors and patients on best practices. They recommend physicians and nurse practitioners prescribe antibiotics only when clinical tests indicate use is needed and explain to patients why other treatments are required. Patients are asked to follow directions to the letter when prescribed antibiotics for best results. To learn more about antibiotics resistance in the U.S., follow the links included below.