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Infectious Disease

Infectious Disease : Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Infectious Disease Specialist?

An Infectious Disease Specialist helps to treat resistant infections. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are becoming more and more common, affecting patients in more profound ways. These seriously ill patients are at risk for more acute complications. In addition to patient care, I work with Infection Control Specialist Karen Frahm to decrease hospital infections, reminding people to wash their hands, and be aware of at risk patients.

What types of tests/procedures are performed for infected disease patients?

By doing a complete history and exam of the patient, the doctor can usually get a good idea of what disease a patient has. After diagnosis,  there is follow-up with a specific treatment plan. Depending on how sick the patient is, blood cultures can be administered and sent to the lab to determine the type and strain of bacteria. Bacteria are getting more and more unpredictable, so by testing with a panel of antibiotics, we can determine proper treatment. Most viral diseases are left untreated and rely on the immune system to fight off the disease. With bacterial infections, antibiotics help the process along.

What diseases stand out to you as being most common?

People who have surgery can be classified at high risk of becoming infected. Fortunately, the numbers are very low, but if a patient does become infected, there is a good chance I will be seeing that person. Some of the most common diseases I see are tuberculosis, pneumonia, and MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphyloccocus Aureus), which is a mutated, very aggressive strain of staph infection.

What are some things that can be done to prevent infectious diseases?

Many times being diagnosed with an infectious disease is just bad luck. However, by maintaining proper hygiene; i.e., cleaning scrapes, washing hands, be aware of other infected patients, people can prevent diseases. The most preventable is the hospital-acquired infection, and we are continuing to work towards that. The vast majority of infections happen outside the hospital with the common flu and cold. Inside the hospital, patients are more prone to bacterial infections.