Is Pneumonia Contagious?

November 12, 2012

Is Pneumonia Contagious?

Is pneumonia contagious? This is a very common question and the answer is dependent on the exact type of pneumonia.

Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs and fluid builds up in the air spaces between the lungs. These alveoli as they are known will show the affected part of the lung as white in a standard x-ray.

Pneumonia can be diagnosed from the medical history of the patient along with a physical examination.

There are many types of bacteria, viral, fungal and infectious agents that may cause pneumonia. But is pneumonia contagious? It is very useful to know exactly what strain it was that caused the pneumonia. Other factors that have to be considered are was the pneumonia caught at home or in hospital, are there other cases of pneumonia in the area and is there is a common source. Are there other diseases such as influenza going about? And does the patient have other underlying illness such as AIDS or alcoholism and is the patient exposed to aerosols or certain dusts.

The bacteria streptococcus pneumonia is the cause of lobar pneumonia and this is not considered to be contagious as streptococcus pneumonia is an orgasm that is everywhere and also there are many healthy people who have this organism present. Is pneumonia contagious? No, Lobar pneumonia cannot be caught by someone who has this type of pneumonia and as a result of this patients do not have to be kept in isolation.

The other forms of pneumonia that are caused by organisms such as Staph or Aureus are very common in patients who are already in hospital. Pneumonia that is caused by the organism pneumocystis carinae which is often seen in patients with AIDS, alcoholics or patients restricted to bed do not have to be isolated either because these organisms can be found in people who are healthy and this organism can be found everywhere.

The cause of pneumonia may be due to certain organisms that previously were considered common in society, such as measles. For example a patient who caught pneumonia in days gone by, because of measles would routinely be kept in isolation. However we now know that there was no point in using isolation in cases like these as almost 100% of children will develop measles during their childhood. And if a case developed into pneumonia there is no specific connection on how the patient developed it.

But there are rare pneumonias that do require strict isolation such as the pneumonia of the plague. This is extremely contagious the same as pneumonias that have been caused by the anthrax and ebola viruses. All these pneumonias can be fatal and exposure to them will put you at high risk of contracting them. Pneumonia that developed as a result of the mycobacterium tuberculosis organism can be spread by the droplets when a patient coughs and patients have to be kept in isolation until the risk of infection has ceased. The use of ventilation systems and using masks help to reduce to risks of tuberculosis spreading.

So is pneumonia contagious? If a patient has developed pneumonia at home or in hospital it is highly unlikely they are contagious.

If a person started off with swollen glands and a fever which then turned into pneumonia and they had been rabbit hunting in the South West area of the U.S. immediate medical attention is required. In this area the plague is endemic in small animals. And isolation would be required in these cases to prevent a spread of this illness. We tend to think that plague is a thing of the past but there has been a plague outbreak in India and many people died. It is a very rare disease at this time in the U.S. and it is fair to say that 99% of patients who suffer from pneumonia will not have to be kept isolated. So is pneumonia contagious? In a small amount of cases yes it is contagious but it appears in the majority of cases it is not.

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