Viral and bacterial infections are infectious diseases. Viruses cause viral infections and bacteria cause bacterial infections.
At Dignity Health, skilled emergency teams provide exceptional care to treat time-sensitive viral and bacterial infections. If you need emergency medical attention for a viral or bacterial infection in Sacramento or a surrounding area, call 911 or go to one of our emergency rooms immediately. Select an estimated arrival time to a Dignity Health ER using our online waiting service, InQuicker™.
Causes of Viral & Bacterial Infections
Viral and bacterial infections spread in four main ways:
- Infected insect: infectious disease specialists refer to this as a “vector.” You become infected when an infected insect, such as a mosquito or tick, bites you and spreads germs to you.
- Indirect contact with a contaminated surface: door knobs, water faucets, or keyboards are breeding grounds for germs. This can lead to infection if you don’t wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Direct contact with someone who has an infection: you can spread germs through touching, coughing, sneezing, kissing, or sexual contact.
- Contaminated food or water: drinking or eating such items can also make you sick.
Symptoms of Viral & Bacterial Infections
In many cases, the symptoms of viral and bacterial infections are very similar, and it’s often difficult to tell which one is causing the infection. Specific testing, such as a throat swab, is often necessary. Common symptoms of infectious diseases include muscle aches, fatigue, and fever. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can also occur.
Seek urgent or emergency medical care for:
- Stiff neck, severe headache, and vomiting, which are symptoms of meningitis
- Stomach pain along with nausea and vomiting, which could be a sign of appendicitis or food poisoning (bacterial gastroenteritis)
Dignity Health treats the following viral infections:
- Viral meningitis
- Viral hepatitis
- Swine flu (H1N1)
- Stomach flu
- Influenza (flu)
- Common cold
Visit a Dignity Health hospital to receive treatment for the following bacterial infections in the Sacramento region:
- Whooping cough (pertussis)
- Urinary tract infections (organisms other than bacteria can cause these infections, too)
- Strep throat
- Lyme disease
- Cat scratch disease
- Bacterial meningitis
Treatment of Viral & Bacterial Infections at Dignity Health
Our treatment and prevention strategies depend on whether you have a viral or bacterial infection. Antibiotics are the mainstay of bacterial infections. If you have a prescription, be sure to finish the entire course unless your doctor tells you otherwise, even once you start to feel better. This helps prevent resistance — when bacteria learn to overcome the antibiotic.
For some viruses, antiviral medicines are effective. For others, supportive measures are the main treatment. This includes rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medicines to treat symptoms. Dignity Health provides 24/7 emergency services for viral and bacterial infections in Sacramento, CA and the surrounding areas.