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Infectious Diseases and Virology

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Infectious diseases occur when organisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi enter our bodies and make us sick. Often, these illnesses can be passed from person to person. We care for children with the most complicated illnesses, including those that develop when your child's natural defenses (immune system) are not working properly. Our Virology team specializes in treating children with HIV and AIDS.

Our team is expert at choosing medicines best suited to your child's condition, in doses that are appropriate for growing children. We work closely with many of Seattle Children's clinics and services, including Orthopedics, Immunology and Home Care Services, to ensure your child receives the best possible treatment.

Conditions We Treat


We see children with a broad range of infectious diseases, including:


Bone and Joint Infections

Bacteria can infect bones or joints, causing pain, swelling and redness. Doctors treat bone and joint infections with antibiotic medicines and sometimes with surgery. When children need surgery, our infectious disease experts work with doctors who have special training in caring for problems with bones and joints (orthopedic surgeons). Infections in the bones and joints can cause long-term pain and disability, but with proper treatment, most can be cured before they cause serious problems.

Congenital Viral Infections

When pregnant women are either infected or have been around someone with certain viruses, their babies may be born with infections that can cause serious health problems. Infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV), for example, is not often a problem for older children and adults. But some babies who are born with the infection (congenital CMV infection) eventually develop hearing, vision, neurological and development problems. If untreated, infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV) during delivery can cause the same kinds of serious problems.

Fever of Unknown Origin (FUO)

Many conditions can cause fever, including infections. Fever of unknown origin is a fever that has no source that doctors have identified, and that lasts longer than two weeks.

Hospital Follow-up of Invasive Infections

We provide care for children who can leave the hospital, but who still need to get antibiotic medicines through a vein (IV antibiotics) once they are at home. Often, these medicines are used to treat infections such as meningitis, bloodstream infections, and brain and soft tissue sores (abscesses).

Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection (HIV and AIDS)

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). HIV infects and damages a type of white blood cell in the immune system called T helper cells (T cells). A weakened immune system makes your child less able to fight off germs and disease. Read more.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus Exposure

Young people may be at risk for getting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in several ways. Pregnant women who are infected with the virus can expose their unborn babies. Teens may be at risk for getting HIV through unprotected sex with a person who has HIV or by sharing IV drug needles with a person with HIV. In cases of HIV exposure, treatment with medicines called antivirals can reduce the chance of getting HIV. Read more.

Lymphadenitis

Lymphadenitis is swelling and tenderness (inflammation) in one or more of the lymph nodes due to an infection. The infection usually is caused by bacteria and often can be treated with antibiotic medicine. Lymphadenitis most often affects the lymph nodes in the neck.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Infections

MRSA are a type of Staph (Staphylococcus) bacteria that are not killed by most common antibiotic medicines. As a result, healthcare providers must use different antibiotics and sometimes other methods to treat infections caused by MRSA. We see children who have been diagnosed with MRSA infections that come back over and over (recurrent infections). Our infectious disease specialists (physicians and nurse practitioners) care for these children during special clinic times to lessen the chance of spreading infection. Please call us for information. Read more. (PDF)

Recurrent Fever

Children may have recurrent fever when they meet three conditions: They have three or more fevers within a six-month period, the fevers occur at least a week apart, and there appears to be no illness causing the fevers. Many infections, including those caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites, may be the cause of a recurrent fever. Some diseases that are passed from parent to child in genes (genetic) also cause recurrent fever.

Serious or Unusual Infections

These infections include tuberculosis, malaria and unusual infections your child may get while traveling.

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