General Infectious Disease Consulting

Candida

Candida is a type of fungus normally existing in the body but held in check by the presence of beneficial bacterial.  However, in certain cases, the Candida can multiply and cause an infection. Most at risk are people with compromised immune systems, diabetes, those taking antibiotics or oral contraceptives, HIV-positive individuals, older adults and obese people.

This may show up as a skin infection, most commonly found in the warm, moist crevices of the body.  It is frequently the cause of diaper rash and vaginal yeast infections.  These infections are treatable but often recur.  Treatments include topical and systemic antifungal medications.

Candida can also develop within the mouth or digestive tract and grow uncontrollably, resulting in a fungal infection.  This is known as thrush, which causes white patches that can become red and sore if irritated.  Patients with thrush may also experience pain or difficulty swallowing, fever and bleeding.  In severe cases, it may spread to other areas of the body as well.  Treatment of thrush usually involves antifungal medication to relieve the infection.  This medication is usually in the form of a liquid or lozenge that is applied directly to the white patches in the mouth.

When a Candida infection occurs throughout the body, it is considered a systemic illness.  This demands immediate medical attention as systemic Candida infection can potentially be life-threatening.  Its symptoms include fever, elevated heart rate, breathing difficulty, a pervasive rash and problems with organ function.  Intravenous or oral antifungal drugs are the most effective form of treatment.


Valley Fever

Valley fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis, is a type of fungal infection caused by Coccidioides immitis.  It enters the lungs when you inhale the fungus from soil in which it is present.  This fungus is typically found in desert areas of the southwestern United States and parts of Central and South America.  Your risk of acquiring valley fever increases if you are traveling to these destinations or if you have been receiving cancer treatment, have HIV or diabetes, have undergone an organ transplant or if you are pregnant.

Some people who contract valley fever have no symptoms, while others develop symptoms similar to a cold, the flu or even pneumonia.  Symptoms, such as leg swelling, chest pain, coughing, fever, headaches, joint stiffness, loss of appetite and muscle aches, generally begin between five and 21 days after fungal exposure.  If the infection spreads beyond the lungs to the bloodstream, skin, bones, lymph nodes or central nervous system, the patient may become very ill.  Symptoms can include join swelling, severe lung difficulties, weight loss, change in mental function and sensitivity to light.

To diagnose valley fever, a chest X-ray, blood test and sputum culture may be performed.  To determine whether the infection has spread, a biopsy, spinal tap or bronchoscopy is sometimes needed.  Treatment for the milder form of the condition often revolves around bed rest and over-the-counter medication to relieve discomfort.  In those with a compromised immune system, antifungal treatment is usually necessary.  The most extreme cases may require surgery to remove the infected portion of the lung.


MRSA

MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) infection, sometimes referred to as the "superbug," occurs as a result of a staph infection that has become resistant to the antibiotics typically used to treat such infections.  While MRSA most commonly affects people in healthcare-related environments, it can also affect healthy people, spreading through skin contact with an infected person.

As with most staph infections, the earliest symptom of MRSA is small red bumps appearing on the skin. If left untreated, these bumps can become painful, eventually requiring surgical drainage to clear the bacteria. To prevent life-threatening complications, seek medical attention for any persistent skin conditions, as they may be a sign of MRSA.

To diagnose MRSA, tissue samples and/or nasal secretions are studied in a microbiology lab to determine their resistance to antibiotics. Treatment for MRSA varies; some cases of MRSA may be treated with medications, while others may require surgical drainage of any abscesses on the skin. A personalized treatment plan will be developed based on each patient's individual condition.

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