The medical treatment of infectious diseases falls into the medical field of Infectiology and in some cases the study of propagation pertains to the field of Epidemiology. Generally, infections are initially diagnosed by primary care physicians or internal medicine specialists. For example, an “uncomplicated” pneumonia will generally be treated by the internist or the pulmonologist (lung physician). The work of the infectiologist therefore entails working with both patients and general practitioners, as well as laboratory scientists, immunologists, bacteriologists and other specialists.
An infectious disease team may be alerted when:
- The disease has not been definitively diagnosed after an initial workup.
- The patient is immunocompromised (for example, in AIDS or after chemotherapy);
- The infectious agent is of an uncommon nature (e.g. tropical diseases);
- The disease has not responded to first line antibiotics;
- The disease might be dangerous to other patients, and the patient might have to be isolated.