A bacterial infection is an infection caused by bacteria. Bacterial infections can often be treated successfully with antibiotics.
An infection may begin as a bacterial infection. Or a bacterial infection may follow a viral infection that does not get better. When a viral infection doesn't get better for 10 days or more, or when a viral infection starts to improve and then unexpectedly gets worse, a bacterial infection may be more likely.
A bacterial infection usually affects a single area in the body, such as the sinuses, lungs, ears, or urinary tract. Common bacterial infections include sinusitis, pneumonia, strep throat, ear infections, and bladder infections. If untreated, a bacterial infection can spread to the bloodstream. This condition is called bacteremia.
Current as of: May 22, 2015
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
Want More Information?
HealthLink BC, your provincial health line, is as close as your phone or the web any time of the day or night, every day of the year.
Call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C. or for deaf and hearing-impaired, call 7-1-1.
You can speak with a health service representative, who can also connect you with a:
- registered nurse any time, every day of the year;
- registered dietitian from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday;
- pharmacist from 5pm to 9am, every day of the year.
Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.