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Practice Infectious Disease Questions for the Physician Assistant Exam

On the Physician Assistant Exams (PANCE/ PANRE), you need to know about nasty bugs known as microorganisms that can wreak havoc on our bodies, as well as their effects, and the drugs used to treat them. These practice questions are similar to the PANCE infectious disease questions.

Example PANCE Questions

  1. You’re evaluating a 35-year-old man who presents with arthritis, fever, urethritis, and conjunctivitis. This has been occurring a few days. He states that about a week ago, he came down with what felt like a viral bug that went away. What is the likely cause of this person’s symptoms?

    (A) Enterobius vermicularis

    (B) Plasmodium falciparum

    (C) Schistosomiasis

    (D) Shigella flexneri

    (E) Rotavirus

  2. Which one of the following would be used to treat tetanus?

    (A) Fluconazole (Diflucan)

    (B) Prednisone (Deltasone)

    (C) Metronidazole (Flagyl)

    (D) Doxycycline (Vibramycin)

    (E) Azithromycin (Zithromax)

  3. You’re evaluating a 55-year-old man with advanced HIV who presents with significant diarrhea. He has a CD4 count of 100. What is the likely cause of his diarrhea?

    (A) Cryptosporidium

    (B) Cryptococcus

    (C) Norwalk virus (norovirus)

    (D) Giardia

    (E) Salmonella

  4. Which one of the following is a criterion for rheumatic fever?

    (A) Erythema migrans

    (B) Erythema nodosum

    (C) Leukopenia

    (D) Erythema marginatum

    (E) Meningitis

  5. Which of the following is recommended for treating a Chlamydia trachomatis infection?

    (A) Metronidazole (Flagyl)

    (B) Diflucan (Fluconazole)

    (C) Azithromycin (Zithromax)

    (D) Gentamicin

    (E) Amoxicillin (Trimox)

  6. Which one of the following is recommended for treating Rocky Mountain spotted fever?

    (A) Metronidazole (Flagyl)

    (B) Doxycycline (Vibramycin)

    (C) Azithromycin (Zithromax)

    (D) Diflucan (Fluconazole)

    (E) Amoxicillin (Trimox)

Example PANCE Answers and Explanations

Use this answer key to score the practice infectious disease questions. The answer explanations give you some insight into why the correct answer is better than the other choices.

1. D. This man has reactive arthritis, or Reiter’s syndrome, likely caused by Shigella flexneri. Reiter’s is a reactive illness that occurs after being infected by Shigella. Choices (A) and (C), Enterobius vermicularis and schistosomiasis, are parasitic diseases that would present with ongoing intestinal symptoms. Choice (B), Plasmodium falciparum, is one of the most common causes of malaria; it causes flu-like symptoms and icterus. Rotavirus, Choice (E), is a common cause of diarrhea in children.

2. C. Choice (C), metronidazole, is the treatment of choice for tetanus. Choices (A) and (B), fluconazole and prednisone, are an antifungal and a steroid, respectively. They aren’t used in the treatment of tetanus, which is caused by a bacteria, Clostridium tetani. Choice (D), doxycycline, is used in treating Lyme disease. Choice (E), azithromycin, is used in treating community-acquired pneumonia.

3. A. This person likely has a Cryptosporidium protozoan in him. This parasite is the most common cause of diarrhea you’d expect, given his HIV status and the fact that his CD4 count is less than 200. Choice (B), Cryptococcus, is a cause of meningitis. Choice (C), norovirus, is a common viral cause of diarrhea in children. Don’t forget norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships, too. Choice (D), Giardia, is a protozoan parasite that can cause diarrhea; it’s usually related to infected well water. Choice (E), Salmonella, is a bacterial cause of diarrhea.

4. D. Erythema marginatum, a characteristic skin rash, is a criterion for rheumatic fever. Choice (A), erythema migrans, is seen with Lyme disease. Choice (B), erythema nodosum, occurs with sarcoidosis and other rheumatologic diseases. Choice (C), leukopenia, isn’t a criterion for rheumatic fever; leukocytosis, not leukopenia, is a minor criterion. Meningitis, Choice (E), isn’t a criterion for rheumatic fever, either.

5. C. There are two treatments for Chlamydia infection: One is giving one dose of azithromycin, and the other is 7 days’ worth of doxycycline twice a day.

6. B. The treatment for Rocky Mountain spotted fever is doxycycline.

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