Atrium Health Navicent Infectious Disease

Resistant, Cancer-Related and Unusual Infections

 Four women holding a Cancer Awareness ribbon

As specialists in resistant, cancer-related, or unusual infections, we believe education is paramount. What follows is a look at a range of infectious diseases and their threat risk.

Resistant Infections

The growth of antibiotic-resistant infections has long alarmed the healthcare community. In 2001, the epidemic was seen as a "perfect storm" - a sudden and inexplicable combination of events and circumstances that created an aggravating and potentially dangerous situation. At the time, the Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance and the Atrium Health Navicent Infectious Diseases Society of America both released reports looking at ways to combat the situation, including a re-dedication to pharmaceutical antibiotic research and development.

Not much has changed in the 15 years since unless you consider the situation getting worse a change. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report these infections are responsible for almost 25,000 fatalities in any given year.

Here are some of the more common and dangerous infections in this category.

Clostridium Difficile (C. diff)

This infection causes severe inflammation, cramping, and diarrhea. It can be transferred by anyone who has it, especially if they share a bathroom. Always practice good hygiene, especially in hospitals, clinics, and other medical settings. Another risk is not taking antibiotics properly.

Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)

CRE was recently tied to deaths in North Carolina and California. One common form of CRE is E. coli. These bugs infect skin, lungs, bladder, and the bloodstream. CRE is even resistant to last-resort antibiotics.

Drug-Resistant Neisseria Gonorrhoeae

A sexually transmitted disease, Neisseria gonorrhoeae causes rectal, urinary, and reproductive tract infections. Untreated, it can cause infertility in both sexes. The best way to avoid this infection is practicing safe sex.

General medical facilities may not have the resources to treat resistant bacterial infections. If diagnosed, you will likely be referred to an infectious disease medical practice.

Cancer-Related Infections

Cancer-related infections are a two-way street. Infections can mitigate the risk of cancer and vice versa.

Infections can affect genes within cells; insert their own genes, resulting in abnormal behavior. Other infections create severe and long-term inflammation, diminishing immune systems, especially systems that protect the body from certain cancers.

Viruses, bacteria, and parasites can lead to or result from cancer. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) has been associated with several cancers. HIV does not cause cancer directly, but the way it affects the body increases the risk of cancer. The HIV infection has been linked to patients with Kaposi sarcoma and cervical cancer, types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, some forms of liver cancer, as well as lung cancer.

In certain cases, the malignancy will predispose cancer patients to recurrent or severe infections. Cancer sufferers are often provided with strategies that look to prevent or manage complications like neutropenia, a condition that affects the body's white blood cells. This weakens the body's ability to defend against bacterial infections. If not treated promptly, the condition can be fatal.

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiology may also induce infection. Clinicians will do whatever is possible to prevent undesirable repercussions of these treatments, but they cannot guarantee success. They will provide medications, diet regimens, exercise programs, regular screenings, and other solutions to minimize the impact of treatment.

Unusual Infections

These infections are rare and cannot be managed by common medical treatments. Your doctor will likely refer you to or directly contact an infectious disease medical practice for a consultation.


Acanthocephaliasis is a breed of thorny-headed worms that infect the human body. These parasites are recorded as the first acquired human infection by Moniliformis moniliformis.


Dipylidiasis is an uncommon infection created by a bodily invasion of the tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum. This parasite is usually found in cats and dogs, but humans have become infected by ingesting fleas with D caninum cysticercoids.

Granulomatous Amebic Encephalitis

Granulomatous amebic encephalitis is a disease of the central nervous system caused by species like Acanthamoeba and Balamuthia mandrillaris. It can cause neurological issues like focal paralysis, brainstem issues, and seizures. Due to its mimicking of other brain diseases, diagnosis can be hindered.


Schistosomiasis is a dual infection located in the urinary bladder. It is the result of the appearance in tissue sections of adult worms and eggs from the Schistosoma haematobium and Schistosoma mansoni species.

Syphilitic Gastritis

Syphilitic gastritis is a Treponema pallidum infection that can be complicated by Helicobacter pylori.


Microsporidiosis is an infection caused by Pleistophora, a parasite that, upon infection, has turned shrimp into cannibals. While the same result has not been seen in humans, there is an obvious negative alteration of the human brain's chemistry.


Sporotrichosis is a rare disseminated infection that produces numerous yeast cells in the scrotum.


Angiostrongyliasis is an infection a human acquires by eating undercooked or raw slugs, snails, crabs, and freshwater shrimp, or by ingesting raw vegetables contaminated by slugs or snails.


Botryomycosis is a strain of infection on the skin and subcutaneous tissue. This is the result of gram-positive cocci and a large number of granules.


The most effective manner for treating resistant, cancer-related, or unusual infections is through specialized treatments and programs. A subspecialty of internal medicine, infectious disease medicine is focused on diagnosing and managing infection. An infectious disease medical practice is housed with professionals that have a comprehensive background in the study of viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic human infections. They are equipped to manage the unique environmental, epidemiological, occupational and host circumstances behind the infection. These enterprises and their board certified staff works closely with doctors, hospitals, and clinics, serving as consultants or acting as direct practitioners to help patients diagnosed with one of these ailments.