Microbes refer to bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. When these cause illness in people or animals, antimicrobials (ex. antibiotics, antifungal, etc.) are used to kill these organisms. Unfortunately, some microbes have developed resistance to these crucial treatments, a phenomenon which has been referred to as antimicrobial resistance (AR). Infections caused by antimicrobial-resistant microbes are difficult to treat. As a result, AR has become a public health threat, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths occurring in the U.S. each year.1

How does AR happen?

AR occurs when microbes adapt to their environment to survive. When exposed to antimicrobial treatment, germs will either flourish or die. Those that remain show resistance to treatment that may have been acquired through genetic mutation or gene transfer from a separate microbe.

AR is a process that occurs naturally; however, the frequent use of antimicrobial therapy has accelerated the process. Providers may prescribe antibiotics in situations where the cause is not yet known, such as when pressured by a patient or treating a patient empirically. Outside a medical setting, antibiotics are used in animals intended for human consumption to treat and prevent illnesses in animals. Though antimicrobials are an important tool, the overuse has contributed to AR.

AR Happens

Northern Nevada Public Health AR Surveillance:

Northern Nevada Public Health is dedicated to controlling and preventing the spread of antimicrobial resistant pathogens in Washoe County through the following activities:

  1. Conducting surveillance programs
    • Countywide antibiogram surveillance.
    • Laboratory based surveillance for carbapenem resistant organisms (CRO)
    • Case and contact investigation of carbapenemase producing organism (CPO)
  2. Collecting, analyzing, and disseminating antimicrobial resistance associated data and reports.
  3. Coordinating provider education activities.
  4. Distributing public education materials to increase the awareness for providers and the public.

Northern Nevada Public Health Surveillance Programs

CPO and CRO Surveillance

County-wide Antibiogram

Educational Resources

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antimicrobial Resistant. About Antimicrobial Resistance. Accessed August 2023

Last modified on 11/15/2023