Infectious disease physicians are much like detectives. We use different tools to examine samples of blood, urine, body fluid, or sputum to find the cause of a disease and then treat the identified agent with the appropriate therapy.
A virus, bacteria, or parasite can cause infections. Some diseases caused by viruses require only supportive care since the disease may be self-limiting; meaning the infection will resolve over time without any drug treatment. Use of antibiotics for treatment of viruses is not advisable, because antibiotics have no effect on viruses and may lead to future drug resistance. However, antiviral therapy does work for some viruses such as Herpes, Influenza (Flu), HIV and Hepatitis C. Currently HIV viruses can not be eradicated but can be suppressed. There is on going research to find a cure for HIV. Hepatitis C on the other hand, can be cured in most cases especially with new drugs called direct acting agents.
Antibiotics are very useful against bacterial infection and are life-saving agents in severe bacterial infections. Inappropriate use of these agents has led to resistance. One of the challenges faced by infectious disease practitioners today is the management of infections caused by highly resistant bacteria. Everyone, including physicians, patients, and their family members have a role in the prevention or development of highly resistant bacteria. Highly resistant bacteria can spread from one country to another via travel and is not restricted to one part of the world.