Is Pneumonia Contagious? What you Need to Know

November 12, 2012

Is Pneumonia Contagious? What you Need to Know

Is pneumonia contagious? Well, pneumonia comes in two forms; viral and bacterial and they are both contagious. In as much as they are both contagious, when passing infection from one person to another, usually causes a weaker infection such as a cold or mild flu.

Virus and bacteria are very small pathogens and are responsible for pneumonia and other respiratory infections depending on which bacterium or virus has infected you. They often live in your mouth, nose and nasal passages of an infected individuals. They are easily passed on from one individual to another through the air by sneezing or coughing, hand to hand contact or touching a contaminated surface. Once you touch your nose or put your finger in your mouth or breath in someones sneeze, you have acquired the infectious agent. Your immune system will detect this intruder and try to get rid of it while these invaders are trying to multiply. Bacterial and viral infections that attack the respiratory system tend to stay there and don’t go to other organs or tissues unless they become severe and your immune system weakens or you already have a weak immune system. Is Pneumonia contagious? Once and individual is infected doesn’t mean their doomed to get pneumonia. Your lungs have mechanisms to keep unwanted invaders out. Local white blood cells can attack and remove pathogens and you have cilia that are constantly moving to push bad things out of the lungs. However, if your exposure is massive, these systems may not be enough to keep you safe. If you have medical issues such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), HIV or any disease that affects your immune system, you will be more susceptible to pneumonia.

Is pneumonia contagious? An individual with pneumonia is contagious but not throughout the illness period. Furthermore, depending on what pathogen they have will determine when a contagious period begins and ends. Unfortunately, viral infections are contagious before the person shows any sign of infection. This could be anywhere between 2 to 4 days before infection and can last until all symptoms are gone. In general, a person with viral pneumonia is contagious for around 2 to 3 weeks. A person is most contagious when they show the worst symptoms which tends to be day 2 to 4 after infection is apparent.

It’s best to protect yourself from getting sick and there are a number of things that you can do. Prevention is everything. Make sure you keep your hands clean at all times. Wash them often. Try not to touch your face, mouth, nose or eyes and don’t stick your fingers in your mouth or up your nose. Try to avoid people who are infected. Is it contagious? Yes, but you can protect yourself and others. If you are infected, it is best to stay home during the contagious period so you don’t make other people sick. Don’t drink out of someone else’s coffee mug or glass and stay away from surfaces or towels an infected person may have come in contact with.

In general, most germs don’t cause pneumonia and if you have been exposed to someone that has it, you will probably get a milder version of infection such as a cold. Remember, that people are contagious before they show signs but are most contagious on day 2 to 4 after symptoms are obvious. Is pneumonia contagious? Yes, but if you take precautions, you shouldn’t have a problem.


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