Infectious Diseases Clinic

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What are Infectious Diseases?

Infectious diseases are caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi. Our environment is saturated with these microorganisms. Luckily not all cause disease. However some do, when the microorganism is particularly pathogenic (that is, disease causing) or when our immunity for some reason fails to protect us, for example when our immunity is lowered or the skin barrier is broken. Infectious diseases range from the common cold to a fatal meningitis, a gastric flu to severe food poisoning, common childhood viruses to chronic hepatitis, transient skin fungi to HIV.

How are Infectious Diseases Spread?

In their vast majority infectious diseases are spread from human to human, either directly or indirectly. Examples of direct spread would include influenza, spread by coughing and sneezing, and sexually transmitted diseases, spread by direct physical contact. Examples of indirect spread would include mosquito spread illness where the mosquito carried an infection from one person to another, or food borne illness where water contaminated by drainage would transmit infections from one person to another consuming the contaminated food.

Can Infectious Diseases be treated?

The first line of defence is our own immunity, which immediately tries to produce antibodies against infections. Usually rest, fluids and vitamins help the immunity do its job. In most cases we manage to fight off infections that way. In some cases with more pathogenic microorganisms, treatment may be required. Antibiotics may be needed in bacterial infections, antifungals in fungal infections and antiparasitic drugs in parasitic infections. These classes of medicines do not work on viruses, hence the recommendations against using antibiotics for uncomplicated viral infections. Most viral infections are self limiting, but when they are not and there are risks of damage to health or threat to life, antiviral drugs are sometimes available to try and decrease the activity of the viruses.

How can we help at St Andrews?

At St Andrews we have a team of General Practitioners who you can speak to, discuss your symptoms and in the majority of cases, receive advice or treatment at the same time. In some cases teats may be required, and these could involve blood tests and sputum or stool samples which are then sent to the laboratory for analysis. Results might take a few days to be issued depending of the test requested. At St Andrews we also have a specialist in Infectious Diseases, specialising in all sorts of infectious disease, communicable diseases, travel medicine, STDs and HIV. You may see the specialist directly or be referred by one of our GPS or your own doctor. The GPs are in attendance daily while the specialist attends once a week.

What sort of services can our Infectious Diseases Clinic offer?

  • Diagnosis and treatment of Community Acquired Infections, including respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea, urinary tract infections, joint and bone infections and skin and soft tissue infections.
  • Investigation of persistent fevers or fevers of unknown origin.
  • Investigation, diagnosis and treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections.
  • HIV screening and treatment, including monitoring or CD4 counts and viral loads and prophylaxis.
  • Hepatitis testing and treatment.
  • Wound Infections, and infections related to prosthetics such as knee or hip replacements, pacemakers, and implants.
  • Infections transmitted from animals or insects.
  • Tropical diseases and travel medicine.

Travel Medicinemosquito

Tropical Diseases is a branch of medicine that deals with infections originating in hot and humid climates. Prevalent and common in the Tropics, these microorganisms are not common in Temperate zones and Northern climates. However with travel, migration and changing climate they are increasing in incidence in our practices. However the Tropics are not the sole concern for travellers and many must be made aware that they could be exposed on their journey to infections not usually contractible locally. At St Andrews, our Infectious Diseases Specialist can also provide advice for the traveller, in particular:

  • Pre-Travel Advice whereby the itinerary is discussed and any particular risks discussed.
  • Outlining the vaccines required in cases of high risk.
  • Establishing the need for malaria prophylaxis.
  • Treatment of the returning traveller who may be inflicted with a fever, rash or diarrhoea during or after his or her travels.

Phone us or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with any queries you may have or to make an appointment with either one of our GPs or the attending Specialist.


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