The answer to the antibiotic resistance crisis is not more powerful antibiotics, according to the new report.
Antibiotics are slow to come to market, and germs will one day render them ineffective anyway, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield notes in his introduction to the report.
"We need to adopt aggressive strategies that keep the germs away and infections from occurring in the first place," Redfield wrote.
The key is to use antibiotics less. With less exposure, germs have fewer opportunities to learn how to fight them.
CDC estimates that about a third of prescriptions for antibiotics in emergency rooms and doctors' offices were given for infections that didn't need them. That's 47 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions each year.
Some experts blame doctors for giving in to patients' demands for antibiotics for infections that aren't caused by bacteria, such as viral sore throats and sinus infections.
Craig noted that better tests and tools need to be developed, since currently it can be difficult for doctors to determine whether a patient needs an antibiotic.
"We don't have good diagnostics for certain infections, so we can't always tell if someone has a viral infection or a bacterial infection," he said.
Resistance also increases when antibiotics are overused in animals. Antibiotics can be overused to treat infections in animals, just as they're overused to treat human infections. In fact, 20% of all drug resistant infections come from the food we eat, according to the CDC.
As of 2017, drugs that are important to human health are no longer allowed to be used for growth promotion or feed efficiency in US livestock.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, points out that whether it's overuse in humans or animals, since antibiotic resistance is largely a man-made problem, it requires man-made solutions.
"We are the problem. We have seen the enemy, and it is us," he said.
But Fauci added that if doctors, patients and public health officials work together, it will be possible to stem the tide of antibiotic resistant infections.
"I think we can. I really do," he said. "But it's going to require a global, concerted effort."