The World Health Organization says bacteria resistant to antibiotics have spread to every part of the world and might lead to a future where minor infections could kill.
The concern among health experts -- the more antibiotics we use, the more resistant to bacteria we become, ultimately becoming resistant to treatment to treatment by antibiotics.
One antibiotic-resistant bacteria hospitals and health departments have been fighting for years is Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA.
NBC Montana met with Gallatin County Health Officials to learn how they are fighting this growing health concern.
Health Department officer Matt Kelley says instances of drug-resistant infections are rising around the U.S. and the world. He said, "There's no reason to believe, no reason to think, that we in Montana are any different."
Kelley says it boils down to two issues -- too many antibiotics being prescribed, and patients not following medication instructions.
Kelley explained, "So they become less effective against organisms we're trying to prevent from causing us illness."
The resistant strains of bacteria can complicate what are usually easy to treat illnesses like pneumonia or the flu. The rising number of incidents is a problem that can quickly snowball.
Dr. Mark Winton of Bozeman Deaconess Hospital Infection Control told us, "The more we see it, the harder it is to treat."
He says more cases mean more prescriptions, which can mean more resistance.
Winton explained there are multiple kinds of the same bacteria, like a strain of MRSA first seen in hospitals that can be difficult to treat, as well as a community-acquired, or CA-MRSA, more often passed between individuals.
He said, "Most of what we're seeing is community-acquired MRSA infections, which helps us out because it's a little easier to treat."
These germs can be found everywhere -- from tables and doorknobs, to the shopping carts used by thousands every day.
These surfaces, Kelley said, "Can carry the germs that can make us sick. That shouldn't make us paranoid, that shouldn't make us fearful, it should make us aware."
He says people should be aware of ways protect themselves, like washing hands thoroughly after we come into contact with infected surfaces, and what we can do before antibiotics possibly become less effective.
Kelley explained, "If we immunize ourselves against these drugs we can prevent the need to treat the illness and use antibiotics less in that way."
Health officials say that if you find yourself on antibiotics it is important to finish the entire prescription even if you're feeling better, to avoid creating bacteria resistant to the drugs.
Another concern is antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the food supply. Antibiotics are often fed to animals for production for things like helping them gain weight.
Last December the FDA announced it is phasing out certain antibiotic use in animals by asking companies that supply animal antibiotics to stop allowing them to be used for production.
Typically, they're added to animal feed or water and the drugs are often the same ones given to humans, like penicillin.
Farmers and ranchers would still be allowed to give sick animals antibiotics with veterinarian approval.