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Bacterial and viral infections are diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. Bacteria can survive and multiply on their own, outside of the body. Viruses need a host — a human, animal, or plant — to live and reproduce.
At Dignity Health, our infectious disease experts are trained to diagnose and triage a wide range of infections and provide a full range of care. If you need to go to the ER for a viral or bacterial infection in the Bay Area, use our Online Waiting Room. It will let you select your estimated arrival time at one of our hospitals:
Infections, both bacterial and viral, spread in four main ways:
Symptoms of infections depend on the specific microorganism causing the infection. Often if it hard to tell whether bacteria or viruses are causing an infection without a test, such as a throat swab.
Common symptoms of infection include:
Seek emergency care for a severe headache, stiff neck, and vomiting, which are symptoms of meningitis, as well as stomach page with nausea and vomiting, which could be caused by food poisoning (bacterial gastroenteritis) or appendicitis.
How our experts treat your infection depends on whether it is caused by a virus or bacteria. Regardless of the cause, the best way to prevent infections is by washing your hands regularly.
Antiviral medicines are available for some types of viral infections. However, supportive measures — such as over-the-counter medicines to treat symptoms, fluids, and rest — are the main treatment for many viral infections.
Antibiotics are commonly used to treat bacterial infections. However, it’s important to use them responsibly to help prevent antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are very difficult to treat and can be fatal. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, be sure to finish them unless told otherwise — even if you start to feel better.
Let the team at Dignity Health in the Bay Area know if you need treatment for an infection. You can Find a Doctor online in a nonemergency situation — your health is always our priority.
Dignity Health offers treatment for viral and bacterial infections in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.