Is Pneumonia Contagious or Not?

Pneumonia infections depend on a number of factors so the answer as to whether pneumonia is contagious varies from situation to situation. Although pneumonia is a common health problem, there are many forms of this disease, some very rare. As such, you will find instances where pneumonia patients require being isolated while in others, offering care does not pose any risk of contracting the disease.

Generally, pneumonia is indicated by the inflammation of the lung alveoli due to the accumulation of foreign material. Even with this basic diagnostic knowledge, the determination of the actual type of pneumonia is a problem to many physicians. In the past, the doctors used to rely on extensive tests but with the emergence of new diagnostic tools, the diagnosis process is easier. However, a doctor pegging the diagnosis on mere observation and medical history is likely to err on whether the pneumonia in question is contagious.

It is very important to know whether the pneumonia has been caused by a viral, bacterial or fungal infection. It is only then that one can answer the question of whether pneumonia is contagious. Apart from the causative agent, the circumstances surrounding the infection are an effective guide on the kind of infection one is dealing with. Some of the question the patient or the medic needs to consider includes whether the disease was contracted from home or hospital; whether there was a related disease in the surrounding; and whether the patient has any underlying medical condition such as diabetes.

The streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria is present throughout the environment thus in contact with every individual. Pneumonias such a lobar pneumonia are caused by this organism thus they are categorized as non-contagious. In such a case, isolation of the patient is not necessary because second parties may not contract the disease through contact. Most of the non-contagious pneumonias are found in immune deprived people especially those already admitted in hospital. Therefore, in addition to lobar pneumonia, a healthy person may not contract pneumonia bronchopneumonia or those caused by Pneumocystis carinae. These are caused by common organisms that everyone comes into contact with on a daily basis.

Is pneumonia contagious in most cases? The answer is no. The normal forms of pneumonia are not contagious and patients need not be isolated. However, there are rare forms of pneumonia that are highly contagious and strict isolation is the surest way of containing their spread. For instance the Ebola virus and anthrax cause the pneumonia of plague that has been known to spread very quickly. This form of pneumonia is highly contagious and the patients must be isolated as they recover. The same case applies for mycobacterium tuberculosis patients whose cough droplets can cause an infectious pneumonia. To control the formation and spread of this pneumonia, the tuberculosis patient has to be isolated until recovery.

Pneumonia is probably one of the most misconceived conditions. As much as the causative agents of most pneumonia are easy to catch, the development of actual pneumonia depends on an individual’s body immune system. This means that while you can catch flu from a pneumonia patient, one does not contract the pneumonia in most cases.

So, whether pneumonia is contagious or not is a factor of the general health of the body. All in all, pneumonia is a serious disease and as such there is need to be cautious when dealing with a patient or dwelling in risky environments. You can prevent most pneumonia cases by having a vaccine especially if you are past the age of 55. There are also pneumonia vaccines for young children, chronically ill people and those with weak immune systems. Also prevent the entry of pneumonia causing organisms into the body by hand washing. So, is pneumonia contagious? Yes and no.

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