• Question: •What kinds of infections are caused by viruses and should not be treated with antibiotics?

    Asked by Illuminati_Overlord to Sally, Rob, Matt, Marikka on 18 Nov 2014.
    • Photo: Sally Cutler

      Sally Cutler answered on 18 Nov 2014:

      Hi Viruses should not be treated by antibiotics, but there are some antiviral treatments that might be used. Many diseases are viral like mumps, measles, flu, colds through to rabies, Ebola, lassa fever, SARS just to mention a few.

    • Photo: Marikka Beecroft

      Marikka Beecroft answered on 19 Nov 2014:

      Sally has named some Viral infections that you can get and they definitely shouldn’t be used with antibiotics! Antibiotics are to be used for bacterial infections only and viruses should be treated by antivirals. If you were infected by both a virus and a bacterium though it would be OK to use antibiotics then. For example people with HIV tend to also get tuberculosis and so they need both antivirals and antibiotics.

    • Photo: Robert Hampson

      Robert Hampson answered on 19 Nov 2014:


      Wikipedia lists the most common viral diseases. Some you will recognise (influenza – also known as ‘flu), some you won’t (rotavirus – causes the condition known as “stomach flu” though it has no relation to influenza).

      Occasionally, viruses can make the patient very very ill and they may require treatment other than simple antivirals. One of the things occasionally required in very ill patients is antibiotics to invent any additional bacterial infections whilst the immune system is in a weak state trying to fight the virus.