Infectious Disease

Conditions & Treatments

Every year, the medical staff at Banner Health see many patients who have been impacted with infectious diseases, including mono, E coli, HIV and Lyme Disease.

The most common complaint, however, is the flu or influenza.


Immunization is key to preventing disease among the general population. Vaccines benefit both the people who receive them, and the vulnerable, unvaccinated people around them, because the infection can’t spread through the community if most people are immunized.

In addition, immunizations reduce the number of deaths and disability from infections, such as measles, whooping cough and chickenpox.

Speak to your doctor to determine if you have received all recommended vaccinations.

Infectious Diseases

Below is a list of some of the infectious diseases we treat at Banner Health.

Each individual may experience symptoms differently and the method of treatment can be determined by a number of different things. If you have questions or concerns, please consult your physician.

Learn More About Common Infections & Their Treatments

What is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a disease that usually occurs during childhood and is easily spread. By adulthood, more than 90 percent of Americans have had chickenpox.

The disease is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Spread of chickenpox occurs from person-to-person by direct contact or through the air by coughing or sneezing.

What are the symptoms of chickenpox?

Symptoms are usually mild among children, but may be life-threatening to adults and people of any age with weakened immune systems.

Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue and irritability 1 to 2 days before the rash begins
  • Itchy rash on the trunk, face, scalp, under the armpits, on the upper arms and legs, and inside the mouth that appears in several crops. The rash starts as flat red spots and progresses to raised red bumps that then become blisters.
  • Feeling ill
  • Decreased appetite

How is Chickenpox Treated?

Treatment for chickenpox may include:

  • Acetaminophen (to reduce fever). Children with chickenpox should NEVER be given aspirin.
  • Calamine lotion (to relieve itchiness)
  • Antiviral drug acyclovir (for severe cases)
  • Bed rest
  • Increased fluid intake (to prevent dehydration)
  • Cool baths with baking soda or Aveeno lotion (to relieve itching)

What is a Common Cold?

Colds can be the result of more than 200 different viruses. A cold is caused by a virus that inflames the membranes in the lining of the nose and throat.

What are the Symptoms of a Common Cold?

Symptoms may include:

  • Stuffy, runny nose
  • Scratchy, tickly throat
  • Sneezing
  • Watering eyes
  • Low-grade fever
  • Sore throat
  • Mild hacking cough
  • Achy muscles and bones
  • Headache
  • Mild fatigue
  • Chills
  • Watery discharge from nose that thickens and turns yellow or green

How is a common cold treated?

Currently, there is no medication available to cure or shorten the duration of the common cold. However, some relief for symptoms can be found in over-the-counter cold medications.

What is E. Coli?

Escherichia coli (or simply E. coli) is one of the many groups of bacteria that live in the intestines of healthy humans and most warm-blooded animals. A particular strain of E. coli known as E. coli O157:H7 causes a severe intestinal infection in humans.

What are the symptoms of E. Coli?

Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Severe bloody diarrhea
  • Non-bloody diarrhea
  • Little to no fever
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication that can lead to kidney failure and death

How is E. Coli Treated?

Recovery for most people with this illness usually occurs within 5 to 10 days.

If the patient develops HUS, hospitalization in an intensive care unit may be required. Treatment may include blood transfusions and kidney dialysis.

What is HIV and AIDS?

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which kills or impairs cells of the immune system and progressively destroys the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers. HIV is most commonly spread by sexual contact with an infected partner.

What are the Symptoms of AIDS?

Some people may develop a flu-like illness within a month or 2 after exposure to the HIV virus, although, many people do not develop any symptoms at all when they first become infected. In addition, the symptoms that do appear, which usually disappear within a week to a month, are often mistaken for those of another viral infection.

Persistent or severe symptoms may not surface for 10 years or more after HIV first enters the body in adults, or within 2 years in children born with an HIV infection.

As the immune system deteriorates, complications begin to surface. The following are the most common complications, or symptoms, of AIDS. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Lymph nodes that remain enlarged for more than 3 months
  • Lack of energy
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent fevers and sweats
  • Persistent or frequent yeast infections (oral or vaginal)
  • Persistent skin rashes or flaky skin
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease that does not respond to treatment
  • Short-term memory loss
  • One or more infections (opportunistic infections) related to having a diminished immune system, such as tuberculosis and certain types of pneumonia

How is HIV/AIDS Treated?

Today, there are medical treatments that can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system, but currently there is no cure for the disease.

What is mono?

Infectious mononucleosis, also known as mononucleosis, "mono," or glandular fever, is characterized by swollen lymph glands, fever, sore throat and chronic fatigue.

What are the Symptoms of Mono?

Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph glands in the neck, armpits, and groin
  • Constant fatigue
  • Sore throat due to tonsillitis, which often makes swallowing difficult
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Liver involvement, such as mild liver damage that can cause temporary jaundice, a yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes due to abnormally high levels of bilirubin (bile pigmentation) in the bloodstream

How Is Mono Treated?

Treatment for mono may include:

  • Rest and plenty of liquids for about 1 month (to give the body's immune system time to destroy the virus)
  • Corticosteroids only when necessary to reduce swelling of the throat and tonsils

What is the Flu?

Influenza (or flu) is a respiratory tract infection caused by a virus and is very easily spread.

What are the Symptoms of the Flu?

Symptoms may include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing at times
  • Cough, often becoming severe
  • Severe aches and pains
  • Fatigue for several weeks
  • Sometimes a sore throat
  • Extreme exhaustion

How is the Flu Treated?

The goal of treatment for influenza is to help prevent or decrease the severity of symptoms. This treatment may include over-the-counter medications, or anti-viral medications in more severe cases.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease (LD) is a multi-stage, multi-system bacterial infection most commonly spread by a tick bite.

What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

For about 70 to 80 percent of people, the first symptom is a red rash that:

  • Can appear three to 30 days after infection, or not at all.
  • Can last up to several weeks.
  • Can be very small or very large (up to 12 inches across) and resemble a bulls-eye.
  • Can mimic such skin problems as hives, eczema, sunburn, poison ivy, flea bites.
  • Can itch or feel hot, or may not be felt at all.
  • Can disappear and return several weeks later.

Several days or weeks after a bite from an infected tick, a patient usually experiences flu-like symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Aches and pains in muscles and joints
  • Low-grade fever and chills
  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Swollen glands

After several months, arthritis-like symptoms may develop, including painful and swollen joints.

Other possible symptoms may include:Neurological symptoms

  • Heart problems
  • Skin disorders
  • Eye problems
  • Hepatitis
  • Severe fatigue
  • Limb weakness
  • Poor motor coordination

Some people may develop post-Lyme Disease syndrome (PLDS), a condition also known as chronic Lyme Disease, characterized by persistent musculoskeletal and peripheral nerve pain, fatigue and memory impairment.

How is Lyme Disease Treated?

Lyme Disease is usually treated with antibiotics. If diagnosed at an early stage, treatment antibiotics are usually given for 3 weeks.

What is Measles?

Measles, also known as rubeola, is a viral illness known for a distinct rash and a fever.

What are the Symptoms of Measles?

Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sore, pink eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • Cough
  • Feeling ill
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headache

How is Measles Treated?

Although antibiotics will not treat the measles itself, it may be necessary to treat infections caused by the measles.

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is a disease caused by an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain. The inflammation is usually caused by infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

What are the Symptoms of Meningitis?

Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Photophobia (low tolerance to bright light)
  • Confusion
  • Joint aches or pains
  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures

How is Meningitis Treated?

There are several different types of meningitis and treatments for each type differ.

  • Bacterial meningitis. Treatment for bacterial meningitis usually involves intravenous (IV) antibiotics. The earlier the treatment is initiated, the better the outcome.
  • Viral meningitis. Treatment for viral meningitis is usually supportive (aimed at relieving symptoms). With the exception of the herpes simplex virus, there are no specific medications to treat the organisms that cause viral meningitis.
  • Fungal meningitis. An intravenous antifungal medication may be administered to treat fungal meningitis.
  • Tuberculous (TB) meningitis. A long course (1 year) of medications is recommended for people who develop TB meningitis. The therapy usually involves treatment with several different medications for the first few months, followed by other medications.

What is Mumps?

Mumps is an acute and illness caused by a virus that usually occurs in childhood and is very easily spread.

What are the Symptoms of Mumps?

Symptoms may include:

  • Discomfort in the salivary glands, especially those in the jaw area, which may become swollen and tender
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite

How is Mumps Treated?

Treatment is usually limited to pain relievers and plenty of fluids. Sometimes, bed rest is necessary the first few days.

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of one or both of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or chemical irritants.

What are the Symptoms of Pneumonia?

Symptoms include:

  • Shaking, chills
  • Low energy, fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sharp or stabbing chest pain that worsens with deep breathing or cough
  • High temperature
  • Heavy perspiring
  • Rapid pulse
  • Rapid breathing
  • Bluish color to lips and nail beds
  • Confused mental state or delirium
  • Cough that produces greenish, yellow, or bloody mucus

How is Pneumonia Treated?

Treatment may include antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia. Antibiotics may also speed recovery from mycoplasma pneumonia and some special cases. There is no clearly effective treatment for viral pneumonia, which usually heals on its own.

What are STDs?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infectious diseases spread through sexual contact.

Types of STDs

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is a virus that destroys the body's ability to fight off infection.

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease. Some types can cause genital warts, which can occur on the inside or outside areas of the genitals and may spread to the surrounding skin or to a sexual partner. Many other types of HPV cause no symptoms, so the infection may go undetected. Women with an HPV infection have an increased risk of developing cervical cancer. Regular Pap tests can detect HPV infection, as well as abnormal cervical cells. An HPV vaccine is available to help prevent cervical cancer.

  • Chlamydial infections. Chlamydial infections may cause an abnormal genital discharge and burning with urination. In women, untreated chlamydial infection may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

  • Gonorrhea. Gonorrhea causes a discharge from the vagina or penis and painful or difficult urination.

  • Genital herpes. Genital herpes infections are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Symptoms may include painful blisters or open sores in the genital area, which may be preceded by a tingling or burning sensation in the legs, buttocks or genital region.

  • Syphilis. The initial symptom of syphilis is a painless open sore that usually appears on the penis, in the vagina, or on the skin around either sexual organ.

How are STDs Treated?

Treatment varies based on the type of STD the patient has. Please consult with your physician.

What is Shingles?

Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a common viral infection of the nerves, which results in a painful rash or small blisters on an area of skin anywhere on the body.

What are the Symptoms of Shingles?

Symptoms may include:

  • Skin sensitivity, tingling, itching, and/or pain in the area of the skin before the rash appears
  • Rash, which appears after 1 to 5 days and initially looks like small, red spots that turn into blisters
  • Blisters typically scab over in 7 to 10 days and clear up within 2 to 4 weeks

How is it Shingles Treated?

Shingles has to run its course, because there is no cure for the disease. Treatment usually focuses on pain relief. Treatment may include painkillers to help alleviate some of the pain and antiviral drugs to help lessen some of the symptoms and minimize nerve damage.

What is Tetanus?

Tetanus is a severe, sometimes fatal, disease of the central nervous system, caused by the toxin of the tetanus bacterium, which usually enters the body through an open wound.

What are the Symptoms of Tetanus?

Symptoms may include:

  • Stiffness of the jaw (also called lockjaw)
  • Stiffness of the abdominal and back muscles
  • Contraction of the facial muscles
  • Fast pulse
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Painful muscle spasms near the wound area (if these affect the larynx or chest wall, they may cause asphyxiation)
  • Difficulty swallowing

How is Tetanus Treated?

Treatment may include:

  • Medications to control spasms
  • Thorough cleaning of the wound
  • A course of tetanus antitoxin injections
  • A tracheostomy (a breathing tube inserted surgically in the windpipe) in severe cases with respiratory problems

What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs.

What are the Symptoms of Tuberculosis?

Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • A cough that produces bloody sputum

How is Tuberculosis Treated?

Tuberculosis often can be successfully treated with specific antibiotics taken for at least 6 months.

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