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Infectious disease

Infectious diseases are caused by a virus, bacteria, fungus or parasite and can be transmitted through multiple sources, including insects, animals or food and water.

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Infectious disease treatment in Virginia

We offer infectious disease care focused on your recovery.

Infections can be serious, but the specialists at HCA Virginia Health System can help. Whether your infection is caused by a virus, bacteria, parasite or fungus, we craft and deliver effective treatment plans to give you the best chance at a full recovery.

Infectious diseases we treat

If you become seriously ill from an infectious disease, your doctor may refer to you to our specialists. We regularly treat conditions such as:

  • AIDS
  • Bone and joint infections
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • COVID-19
  • Hepatitis A, B and C
  • HIV
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Lupus
  • Lyme disease
  • Malaria
  • Meningitis
  • MRSA
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Prolonged fever
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • Shingles
  • Staphylococcus
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • West Nile virus

Our treatment of infectious diseases

Our specialists have extensive training in understanding your body’s immune system, how infections spread and how to treat them.

Causes of infectious diseases

Infectious diseases can be passed from person to person, or you may get them from insects or animals. They can also be caused by the consumption of contaminated food or water or being exposed to viruses or bacteria in the environment around you.

Symptoms of infection

Symptoms that are common across many infectious diseases may include:

  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches

When to see a doctor

We particularly recommend seeking medical attention if you experience those common symptoms along with any of the below:

  • An animal bite
  • Cough that lasts more than a week
  • Rash or swelling
  • Severe headache
  • Unexplained or prolonged fever

Diagnosing an infection

Your doctor may order lab work or imaging scans to help determine what's causing your symptoms. Tests may include:

  • Biopsies
  • Blood tests
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scans
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Stool sample
  • Spinal tap (lumbar puncture)
  • Throat swabs
  • Urine tests
  • X-rays

Treatment

Although a mild infection can sometimes respond to at-home treatments — like getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids — many infections require professional medical attention. This may or may not include hospitalization.

Once your doctor has diagnosed your condition, they can determine the appropriate treatment.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are powerful medicines that fight bacterial infections by either killing bacteria or stopping them from reproducing. Antibiotics are usually reserved for bacterial infections, because this type of medication has no effect on illnesses caused by viruses. They may be administered orally or by injection.

Overuse or misuse of antibiotics (including not taking all of the antibiotics) can decrease the effectiveness of them. It's important to take your antibiotics as directed.

Antifungals

A variety of infectious diseases can be caused by fungi. Skin or nail infections may be treated by a topical antifungal applied to the surface of your skin or nails. Some fungal infections require an oral medicine. More severe internal fungal infections, especially if you have a weakened immune system, may warrant the use of an intravenous antifungal.

Antivirals

Some viruses can now be treated by medications designed for that specific infection. Examples include the viruses that cause:

  • Herpes
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Influenza

Pediatric infectious disease specialists

We offer specialized treatment for pediatric infectious diseases as part of our pediatric care programs. Our experienced doctors work directly with your pediatrician to diagnose and treat your child in a way that makes them feel relaxed and comfortable.

Some common pediatric infections we treat include:

  • Bone and joint infections
  • Hepatitis
  • Meningitis
  • Respiratory infections, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • Unknown illnesses that have prolonged fever

Infectious disease prevention

Although there's rarely, if ever, a fail-safe method to prevent infection, following these tips can decrease your risk:

  • Be careful around all unfamiliar animals, and in the event of a bite, wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention.
  • Don't share personal items like your toothbrush, comb and razor, drinking glasses or dining utensils.
  • Get vaccinated. Vaccination can drastically reduce your chances of contracting many diseases. Make sure to keep up to date on your recommended vaccinations, as well as your children's.
  • Only use antibiotics when they're prescribed, and when they are, complete them even after symptoms have resolved.
  • Practice safe sex, always using condoms if you or your partner has a history of sexually transmitted infections or high-risk behavior.
  • Prepare and handle food carefully. Keep your work area clean, cook foods to proper temperatures and avoid leaving leftovers out for extended periods.
  • Stay informed about disease threats when traveling or visiting underdeveloped countries. Talk to your doctor about special vaccinations or medications you may need.
  • Stay up-to-date on your immunizations.
  • Take care of yourself: Eat well, get plenty of sleep, exercise and avoid tobacco and illegal drugs.
  • Use insect repellant and wear long sleeves, long pants and a hat when outdoors.
  • Wash your hands often with regular soap and water.

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