Our board-certified infectious disease specialists treat adults with difficult or complex infections, bringing decades of expertise to your treatment and care.
We use the latest medical research to diagnose and treat infectious diseases, helping you recover more quickly.
We’ll get to know you and tailor your care from your very first appointment, creating a treatment plan personalized to your needs.
Infectious diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Infections spread in many different ways: directly from person to person, through unclean food and water, in the air, and through contact with animals or insects.
You’ve likely heard of some infectious diseases, like meningitis or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Others, like giardiasis or Legionnaires’ disease, may be more unfamiliar.
When you need additional care or have a complex case, the infectious disease specialists at HealthPartners and Park Nicollet are here to help. We’re experts in rare or complicated infections, including complete HIV/AIDS care. Our compassionate doctors, advanced care providers, nurses, physician assistants and other staff help you understand your diagnosis and work with you to customize your treatment plan. Your care will be coordinated across our entire team of specialists, so all you need to focus on is rest and recovery.
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Infectious diseases we treat
Our expert infectious disease doctors work with people from all backgrounds and lifestyles, tailoring treatment to each person’s unique needs. We treat a wide variety of conditions.
Bacteria are microscopic organisms. Most bacteria don’t pose any danger to us, and many actually benefit our health. But some bacteria cause disease. Bacterial infections we treat include:
- Antibiotic-resistant infections (CRO and VRE infections)
- Bone infections (osteomyelitis)
- Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
- Meningitis (bacterial)
- Salmonella infection
- Complex skin and soft tissue infections
- E. coli infection
- Legionnaires’ disease
- Sepsis (bacterial)
- Staph infection
- Traveler’s diarrhea (bacterial)
A virus spreads infection by making copies of itself. You become ill while your body tries to fight the virus off. Viral infections we treat include:
- Parvovirus (fifth disease)
- Pneumonia (viral)
- Sepsis (viral)
- Traveler’s diarrhea (viral)
- Varicella (chickenpox and shingles)
- West Nile virus
Fungal or parasitic infections
We cook with many kinds of fungi, like mushrooms, but some microscopic fungi can cause infection. Parasites are organisms that depend on us to survive but also make us sick. Fungal or parasitic infections we treat include:
- Meningitis (fungal or parasitic)
- Pneumonia (fungal)
- Sepsis (fungal)
- Traveler’s diarrhea (parasitic)
We offer a full range of HIV/AIDS treatment services, including comprehensive HIV/AIDS case management and end-to-end medication management.
For prevention, we offer pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication for those with higher risk levels. For treatment, we provide highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), HIV-associated lipodystrophy treatment, HIV/AIDS primary care services, specialized nursing and pharmacy services, and much more.
Our professional HIV/AIDS specialists include board-certified doctors, pharmacists, physician assistants, medical social workers, researchers, Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center (MATEC) scholars, and more. Together, we’ll create a treatment plan centered on your unique needs.
We’ll also work to remove barriers to your care so you can stay focused on your treatment and recovery. If you need additional support services – like help getting to your appointments or the assistance of a social worker – we’ll connect you with the right resources.
Symptoms of an infectious disease
Many infectious diseases share common symptoms, such as:
- Aching muscles
- Coughing that won’t go away
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sinus problems, like a sore throat or runny nose
- Skin problems, like a rash, discoloration, itchiness or swelling
- Tiredness (fatigue)
You may have an infection that needs a doctor’s attention if your symptoms:
- Came on suddenly
- Last more than a week
- Interfere with your daily life
You may also want to see a doctor if your symptoms appeared after you:
- Were bitten by an animal or bug
- Had contact with someone sick or infected
- Ate undercooked food or drank untreated water
- Had unprotected sex
- Recently returned from an international trip
Diagnosing an infectious disease
As we diagnose your condition, we’ll listen closely to your concerns to help you get clear answers and start feeling better.
After we complete a physical exam and learn more about your symptoms, we’ll typically diagnose your illness through testing.
We’ll usually perform testing by collecting a sample, such as:
- Saliva – Using a sterile swab, we’ll swab your mouth or throat to get a sample.
- Blood – We’ll carefully insert a needle into a vein (usually in your arm) to collect samples of your blood that can be used for testing.
- Urine – In a private area, you’ll provide a sample that we’ll then use to look for infections.
- Other samples – We may take samples of fluid in areas on your body that look like they could be infected.
These tests may take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to return results. Sometimes, we might need more information for an accurate diagnosis. If this is the case, your doctor will discuss additional tests with you.
Infectious disease treatments
Our infectious disease specialists focus on providing the right treatments that help you manage your symptoms, recover faster and prevent future illnesses.
If your body needs help to fight an infection, we may prescribe medication. The exact kind of medication depends on what’s making you ill. Common medications include:
These are medications that fight infections caused by bacteria, like chlamydia and MRSA. Usually, these medications come in pills and are taken orally for a specific period of time (even after you start to feel better). Penicillins and tetracyclines are two of the most common classes of antibiotic drugs.
We prescribe antibiotics responsibly, not only so you can get appropriate treatment but also to help these medications stay effective for everyone over time.
These medications are prescribed for certain illnesses caused by viruses, like hepatitis.
Many viral infections (like the common cold) get better on their own without medication, so we may recommend staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest. These simple remedies support your body as it uses its natural immune systems to fight the viruses making you sick. However, if your viral infection is causing more severe symptoms, oral or injected antivirals may be used to speed recovery.
Like the name says, these medications fight infections caused by fungi, like ringworm. Because many fungal infections affect the skin, antifungals are usually prescribed as topical creams you’ll spread over the affected area. Oral or injected antifungals may also be used.
When infections are caused by a parasite, like with giardiasis or malaria, doctors may prescribe an antiparasitic drug. Antiparasitics may be topical, oral or injected medications, depending on the particular type of illness. Your doctor will be able to advise which treatment options will be right for you.
If your infection causes complications or other chronic health issues, an infectious disease specialist will work closely with your entire care team to create a unique treatment regimen. This may include:
- Additional medications
- Immune globulin (IG) therapy
- Incision and drainage (lancing)
- Medication infusion therapy
- Surgeries, or other procedures particular to your illness
- Wound management
No matter what’s making you sick, we prioritize compassionate treatment, your health and your well-being.
Preventing infectious diseases
You can reduce the risk of getting many infectious diseases by frequently washing your hands, especially after you use the restroom, before you handle food and after you come into contact with animals. Wash your countertops after you cook, and wash your bedding and clothing regularly, especially if someone in your home is sick.
Store food at the appropriate temperature. When preparing food, make sure to wash all raw fruits and vegetables, but do not wash raw meat or other animal products, like eggs. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for produce, raw meats and cooked meats. Also be sure to cook your food thoroughly – consuming raw meat and other undercooked foods, like unpasteurized milk or juice, can put you at greater risk for illness.
Avoid sharing personal items, like drinking glasses or toothbrushes, with other people. If you use needles or syringes, dispose of them properly and don’t reuse them. If you’re sexually active, always practice safe sex.
Vaccinations and immunizations
For many infectious diseases, there are vaccinations that can eliminate or strongly reduce your chance of becoming ill.
A kind of preventive medicine, vaccinations usually take the form of an injection or a spray. They contain inactive or very weak disease antigens (the things that make you sick), which cause your body to produce antibodies (the things that protect you from illness). After you’ve been vaccinated against a particular disease, you’ll have immunity against that disease, either permanently or for a certain period of time.
It’s much easier to prevent disease than it is to treat it. That’s why we recommend everyone (especially infants, children, senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals) receive vaccines appropriate for their age and risk level. Some vaccines you only need once, while others you need at regular intervals. Our doctors will be able to tell you which vaccines are appropriate for you and your family.
Vaccines are medically proven to be a safe and highly effective way to prevent disease. We offer vaccines that help protect against the following illnesses:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Influenza (flu)
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Pneumococcal pneumonia
If you’re traveling to a part of the world where certain infectious diseases may be more common, we also offer additional types of vaccinations and preventive treatment. Consult with one of our