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Pneumonia

What is pneumonia?
What are the symptoms of pneumonia?
How is pneumonia spread?
How can I keep from getting pneumonia?
Who should get the pneumonia vaccine?
When should I get the pneumonia vaccine?
I’ve been vaccinated against the flu. Should I still get the pneumonia vaccine?
Why should I get the pneumonia vaccine?
If I’ve been exposed to pneumonia, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
What treatments are available for pneumonia? How serious is the disease? 
How many cases of pneumonia have been reported in Kentucky?
Where can I get more information on pneumonia?

What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages.  Certain people are more likely to become ill with pneumonia. This includes adults 65 years of age or older and children younger than 5 years of age. People up through 64 years of age who have underlying medical conditions (like diabetes or HIV/AIDS) and people 19 through 64 who smoke cigarettes or have asthma are also at increased risk for getting pneumonia.

Colds and viral respiratory illnesses with fever may be caused by many different viruses. These illnesses are very common during the fall and winter months.

Pneumonia is also a leading complication of the flu.

What are the symptoms of pneumonia?A health care worker listens to a man's chest, courtesy of Public Health Image Library
Runny nose, sneezing, chills, tiredness, fever, muscle aches, sore throat and cough which may last two to seven days

How is pneumonia spread?
Person-to-person by direct contact with secretions from the nose and mouth. Spread also occurs from the hands, tissues or other items soiled with nose and mouth secretions from an infected person.

How can I keep from getting pneumonia?
Pneumonia can be prevented with vaccines. There is a pneumonia vaccine that can protect against a bacterial strain of pneumonia. The vaccine is available at the Health Department's county health centers.

You should also be vaccinated against other illnesses that can lead to pneumonia, including Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), pertussis (whooping cough), varicella (chickenpox), measles and flu.

Following good hygiene practices can also help prevent pneumonia and other respiratory infections.

1. Cover mouth when coughing and sneezing, with tissues if possible.
2. Properly dispose of contaminated tissues.
3. Frequent, careful hand washing by child care staff, children and household members.
4. Clean, rinse with clean water, then sanitize mouthed toys at least daily and when soiled.
5. Do not share cups, glasses, or utensils.

You can also reduce your risk of getting pneumonia by limiting exposure to cigarette smoke and treating and preventing conditions like diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

Who should get the pneumonia vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the following groups should get the pneumonia vaccine:

When should I get the pneumonia vaccine?
The pneumonia vaccine can be given at any time of year.

The pneumonia vaccine does not need to be given each year. Usually, only one dose is needed at age 65 or older. However, if you have a chronic health condition, check with your doctor to find out if you need to be revaccinated.

I’ve been vaccinated against the flu. Should I still get the pneumonia vaccine?
You can be vaccinated for both flu and pneumonia.  If you are over age 65 or have a chronic medical condition, check with your doctor about getting the pneumonia vaccine.

Why should I get the pneumonia vaccine?
Pneumonia is a serious disease that often causes sickness or death. It is also a leading complication of the flu. There are numerous strains of pneumonia, caused by both viruses and bacteria

About one out of every 20 people who get pneumonia dies from it. Some strains of pneumococcal bacteria (which causes pneumonia) are becoming resistant to antibiotics such as penicillin. So prevention of pneumonia is important.

If I’ve been exposed to pneumonia, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
The incubation period (the length of time between exposure and feeling sick) for pneumonia varies, depending on the type of virus or bacteria causing the infection, it could be several days or a matter of hours.

What treatments are available for pneumonia? How serious is the disease? 
 In most cases, pneumonia can be treated with oral antibiotics given at home. The type of antibiotic used depends on the type of pneumonia. In some cases, other members of the household might be treated with medication to prevent illness.

In some cases, hospitalization may be required.
  
How many cases of pneumonia have been reported in Northern Kentucky?
Cases of pneumonia are not reqiured to by reported to the Health Department. Nationally, an estimated 2.5 million cases of pneumonia and 500,000 pneumonia-related hospitalizations occur each year.
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Where can I get more information on pneumonia?
For more information online, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or call the Health Department at 859.363.2070.

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department,  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, KidsHealth.org, American Lung Assocation