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Infectious Diseases

What is an Infectious Disease Specialist?

Infectious Disease (ID) Specialists are like medical detectives. They examine difficult cases, looking for clues to identify the culprit and solve the problem.

An infectious disease specialist is a physician with advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses caused by microorganisms or germs. 

When do I need an Infectious Disease Specialist?

Difficult Infections
Many common infections can be treated by your personal physician. Your doctor might refer you to an ID specialist in cases where an infection is difficult to diagnose, is accompanied by a high fever, or does not respond to treatment.

High Infection - Risk Travel
Infectious Disease specialists also see healthy people who plan to travel to foreign countries or locations where infection risk is higher. In these cases, ID specialists can help determine whether special immunizations or other preventive measures are necessary to protect travelers from disease.

How Does My ID Specialist Work With Other Medical Professionals?

The ID specialist works with your personal physician to determine which diagnostic tests are appropriate. If treatment is necessary, your doctor and the ID specialist will work together to develop a treatment plan best suited to your needs. Often you will be asked to return to the ID specialist for a follow-up visit. This allows the specialist to check on your progress, confirm that the infection is gone and help prevent it from coming back. If you acquire an infection while in the hospital, the ID specialist will work with other hospital physicians to help direct your care. The specialist also might provide follow-up care after you go home.

Typical Procedures

ID specialists review your medical data, including X-rays and laboratory reports such as blood work and culture data. They also may perform a physical exam to help determine the cause of the problem.
 
Tests
ID specialists often order laboratory tests to examine samples of blood or other body fluids or cultures from wounds. A blood serum analysis can help the ID specialist detect antibodies that indicate what type of infection you have. These advanced tests can further explain the results of earlier tests, helping to pinpoint the problem.

Treatments
Treatments consist of medicines—usually antibiotics—to help battle the infection and prevent it from returning. These medicines may be given to you orally (in the form of pills or liquids) or administered directly into your veins, via an IV tube. Methodist Physicians Clinic maintains an infusion center for treatment requiring IV medications. Learn more about infusion.

Learn More

Methodist Physicians Clinic Infectious Disease Clinic
Infectious Disease Society of America

From Our Health Library

Your Immune System
Common Infectious Diseases
Pets and Infectious Diseases
Prevention of Infectious Diseases