Is Viral Pneumonia Contagious?

Is viral pneumonia contagious? Here's some information about the different types of viruses that cause this condition.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Jan 27, 2018
The lungs are paired respiratory organs that are located in the chest cavity. They are a vital part of our body's respiratory system. When we breathe, the inhaled air passes from the windpipe to the bronchial tubes. The bronchial tubes carry the inhaled air to the lungs. The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place in the microscopic alveolar sacs that are located in the lungs. Though the human body has a mechanism to filter out the pathogens from the air we breathe, there are times when disease-causing agents such as bacteria, viruses or fungi manage to enter the lungs. If the immune system is unable to destroy these pathogens, these may start multiplying. The lung tissue could get inflamed under such circumstances. Such a respiratory condition is medically referred to as pneumonia. This condition could affect one or both lungs
When disease-causing agents enter the lungs, the air sacs within the lungs may get filled with pus or mucus. When the lung tissue or the alveolar sacs become inflamed, the lungs are unable to perform their function. This gives rise to breathing problems. Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria is one of the most common causal organisms for this condition. When the causal organism is a virus, one is diagnosed with viral pneumonia.
Viruses that Cause Pneumonia
Influenza A and B, Parainfluenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) are some of the viruses that are most commonly responsible for causing this condition. Adenoviruses and Parainfluenza viruses are the viruses that cause common cold. At times, cold can also develop into pneumonia. Influenza A and B viruses commonly affect people in winter or spring. This viral infection usually causes respiratory problems, headaches, muscle ache and fever. If one experiences cold, fever, chills, headaches, fatigue, cough with sputum, muscle aches or difficulty in breathing, it would be best to seek medical assistance. While a delay in treatment can cause one's condition to worsen, it can also increase the likelihood of other people getting infected by the virus. So, how long is viral pneumonia contagious? Let's learn about the circumstances under which this infection may spread to others.
Well, not all forms of pneumonia are contagious. However, there are certain viruses that can spread through person-to-person contact. RSV is one such virus that affects babies. This is mainly due to the fact that their immune system hasn't developed fully. It can also affect children and adults who have a weak immune system. Such viruses can easily get transmitted to others through air-borne respiratory secretions. One may get infected if one is in the vicinity of the infected person while he/she coughs or sneezes. One can also get infected on sharing the personal items of an infected person. Cold and flu viruses are also commonly known to cause this condition. These viruses can easily spread through contact. However, cold or flu may not develop into this condition always. A weak immune system would certainly make one more susceptible to getting infected
If you often suffer from infections and take a lot of time to recover, then it would be best to take precautions and maintain distance from the person exhibiting such symptoms. If the person has been diagnosed with this condition, make it a point not to use his/her personal items. Wash your hand frequently. The treatment involves the use of antiviral drugs. Taking flu shots can lower one's chances of getting infected with influenza virus. If one does get infected, doctors usually prescribe anti-flu drugs such as amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir or zanamivir. While ribavirin is prescribed for the treatment when the causal organism is RSV, acyclovir is prescribed when the causal organism is the varicella zoster virus. The medicines will take a couple of days to start showing their effect which is why others can get infected even after the infected person starts the course of antiviral medicines. One must therefore take precautions until one fully recovers. Use of medicines coupled with rest will ensure a speedy recovery. One must also stay well-hydrated at all times. Varicella zoster is the causal organism for chickenpox. So, if you have never had chickenpox, it would be best to get a vaccine.
If you or anyone in your family is ever diagnosed with this respiratory condition, make sure that all the necessary precautions are taken to prevent others from getting infected.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.