Fighting infectious diseases today is much easier than in the past. With proper hygiene and proper precautions, in addition to numerous vaccines and rapidly advancing medical technology, people are better equipped than ever to avoid getting sick.
Even when prevention efforts are made, sometimes a disease is unavoidable. Our infectious disease specialists treat common diseases, including influenza, pneumonia and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as more rare conditions, such as meningitis, measles and yellow fever.
Prevention is the key to fighting many infectious diseases. Part of preventing the spread of an infectious disease includes proper hand washing techniques; taking certain precautions, depending on the disease; following the nationally recommended immunization schedule for children and adults; and taking medications correctly.
Hand washing is an important step in preventing many common infectious diseases. At home or work, wash your hands often—and properly:
- Use clean, running water; if available, use warm water.
- Wet your hands before applying soap.
- Rub your soapy hands together for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to wash all surfaces well, including your wrists, palms, backs of hands, and between fingers.
- Clean and remove the dirt from under your fingernails.
- Rinse your hands thoroughly to remove all soap.
- Dry your hands with an air dryer or a clean paper towel.
- Turn off the faucet with a paper towel.
Hands should be washed often—more frequently than most adults and children actually do. Because bacteria and other germs cannot be seen with the naked eye, they can be anywhere. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used to clean your hands.
Vaccines and Immunization
Vaccines are not just for kids. Children, teenagers and adults alike all rely on vaccines to stay healthy at school, at work, while traveling or wherever their lives take them.
One important thing to remember is that the world of medicine, science and public health is constantly changing and improving; and so, too are recommended vaccines. For example, some recent developments include:
- Recommending boosters for the meningococcal vaccine for certain patients
- Expanding the indications for the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine – which provides protection for certain types of cancer, including cervical cancer, and other problems
- Recommending that all pregnant women receive a vaccine for Tdap (Tetanus, diphteria, acellular pertussis or whooping cough). By vaccinating moms during pregnancy, babies are born with some temporary protection that is transferred from the vaccinated mother; this could help protect babies from this potentially deadly illness until they are old enough to receive the vaccine.
- Expanding the indications for the hepatitis A and influenza (flu) vaccines
People can check with their healthcare provider to find out if their immunizations are current. Also, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers helpful information and immunization schedules.
It is important that people who are planning to travel outside the United States check with their doctor to see what, if any, immunizations they might need. In the United States and many other countries, immunizations have had a huge impact by improving the health of children, teenagers and adults, but in some countries serious diseases like yellow fever, typhoid, meningitis, polio and others remain in existence.
Conditions We Treat
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver.
HIV and AIDS
Many people feel uncomfortable talking about HIV and AIDS, but it’s important to know the basics, understand how to protect yourself and teach future generations about the importance of safe sex.
Influenza, also known as the flu, is a highly contagious viral respiratory tract infection. It is estimated that each year, the flu affects 10-20% of the U.S. population.
Measles and Rubella
Measles and Rubella, commonly known as 'German Measles', are very contagious viral illnesses characterized by a distinct rash and a fever.