What you can do

Of course you can contribute! Whether future generations will have working antibiotics or not depends on what we all do now. Here, we have collected five things you can do as a start. Spread the word and try to get others engaged as well.

Do not use antibiotics unnecessarily

Antibiotics are needed to treat severe infections caused by bacteria. Mild infections in humans and animals can almost always heal on their own. Also, antibiotics have no effect against viruses, which cause colds and many other common infections. If you are worried about an infection, contact 1177 Vårdguiden (or your local health service, if not in Sweden) or a veterinary health care provider for advice. Ask your doctor, dentist or veterinarian if antibiotics are needed in your case.

Do not use leftover antibiotics

There are different types of antibiotics. Although different infections can cause similar symptoms, they may require different treatments. Therefore, you should never take leftover antibiotics or give them to anyone else, neither human nor animal.

Return leftover antibiotics to the pharmacy

Never throw leftover antibiotics in the garbage or flush them down the toilet. Instead, return any remaining medication after treatment to the pharmacy to ensure that they will not end up in our environment.

Protect yourself and others from infection

By preventing the occurrence and spread of infections, you can help to reduce the need to use antibiotics. Two good measures are proper hand hygiene and following vaccination programmes.

Wash your hands

Many bacteria and viruses can spread by hand contact, and washing your hands is an effective way to stop infection. It takes about 20-30 seconds to properly wash your hands with soap and water. These three everyday occasions are examples of when it is especially important to wash your hands:

  • after using the toilet
  • before and during cooking, especially when handling raw chicken and other raw meat.
  • before you eat

It is also good to wash your hands before and after visiting farms, riding schools, zoos and other settings where you come into close contact with animals or their faeces

Take your recommended vaccines

Vaccinations help prevent diseases caused by bacteria or viruses. An example is pneumococci, bacteria that can cause pneumonia and sinusitis. Viral infections, such as influenza and measles, cannot be treated with antibiotics. However, they can sometimes lead to secondary diseases that may need to be treated with antibiotics and several can be prevented by vaccination. By staying up-to-date with your recommended vaccines, you reduce the risk of getting sick and having to use antibiotics. The same goes for the animals, get the recommended vaccines.

Spread knowledge

The more people who follow these recommendations, the greater the chance that we can slow down the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Spread the word to your family and friends and feel free to share our material.

The international antibiotic week World Antimicrobial Awareness Week is held every November and draws attention to the problem of antibiotic resistance across the world. The week also coincides with European Antibiotic Awareness Day on the 18th of November. Read more about how antibiotic resistance is recognised during Antibiotic Week on the WHO website and about European Antibiotic Awareness Day on the ECDC website.