An infectious disease (ID) doctor is an internal medicine doctor (or, in some cases, pediatrician) who has been trained to be an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. Through extensive training, they become experts in all kinds of infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Many infectious disease doctors specialize in treating patients with infections due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of AIDS.
Along with this expertise, ID doctors have more expertise in the use of antibiotics and their potential adverse effects than other physicians. They are also experts in how the body fights infection as well as how infections spread and can be controlled. They often do their own research in these areas.
ID specialists are relied upon for help in dealing with pandemics and emerging disease outbreaks, such as SARS and the recent H1N1 flu.
Medical training for the ID doctor includes the usual seven or more years of medical school and postgraduate training. Usually, the doctor becomes board-certified first in internal medicine. Following that, a doctor can spend an additional two to three years of training in infectious diseases. Again, following this training they can also be board-certified in the internal medicine subspecialty of infectious disease. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation has six board certified doctors in infectious disease
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