A type of atypical pneumonia, 'Walking Pneumonia' is one of the most common ailments affecting people worldwide. Most diseases being triggered by pathogens, the first question that comes to your mind, when inquiring about them is whether they are contagious. You can find solace in the fact that it is the mildest form of pneumonia and also the most easily curable.
What is Walking Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a disease of the lungs caused by a variety of pathogens, and therefore varies in its symptoms. It causes the air absorption sacks of the lung to swell or fill with fluid, causing discomfort. Walking pneumonia is nothing but a particularly less severe type of pneumonia. It is so-called because even when affected with it, people are healthy enough to 'walk'. This variant of pneumonia is most common among the younger age group in the sub-40 category. Fall and late summer are the typical periods around which small scale walking pneumonia outbreaks tend to occur. It's particularly rampant among children of school going age and accounts for half the pneumonia cases at times.
Causative Pathogen - Mycoplasma Pneumoniae
Medically, walking pneumonia is known as 'Mycoplasma Pneumonia', as it's caused by a bacterium called mycoplasma pneumoniae. It belongs to the type 'Mollicutes', which are bacteria, that lack certain fundamental mechanisms for survival on the cellular level, and hence must depend on the host cell of another organism for survival. Therefore, it is an obligate parasite that cannot exist or survive on its own outside a host cell for long.
The symptoms of walking pneumonia are similar to those of influenza. The bacteria infects the lungs, causing the disease. The symptoms are a sore throat, and a headache coupled with chills. Some people may feel nausea along with chest pain. In some cases, it may also cause a rash, along with pain, in the ear. Usually these symptoms last for three to four days or lesser, depending on individual resistive power. Individuals suffering from any of these symptoms should consult a medical professional immediately.
Is it Contagious?
Yes, as already stated before, the disease is indeed contagious. The mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria can be transmitted through airborne water droplets. The bacteria thrives in the respiratory system of the host. They can therefore be transmitted easily through the sneezing or coughing of an infected person. It is advisable to stay away from infected victims who have not undergone treatment yet. The virus stays in the body for a lot more time even if it is not active; specifically about 10 days. Therefore, it's advisable to stay away from affected people for a while, unless they are taking antibiotics.
How to Prevent Contagion?
To prevent contagion, affected people are advised to cover their mouth and nose with clinical masks, or stay at home mostly. This disease causes a lot of fluid and phlegm accumulation in the lungs, which should be spit out, if possible. Use an isolated set of utensils at home and don't share them with other people, until you have achieved complete recovery.
Like all bacteria caused diseases, walking pneumonia is treated by specific antibiotics. As it is a mild form of pneumonia, it can generally be taken care of by the body, on its own. Drink a lot of hot water, and gargle with salt water as it helps the sore throat ease out.
Keep drinking lots of fluids. Use a good vaporub. Apply it on the chest and nose to open up the clogged respiratory pipe. Increase fluid intake as it helps one recover faster. If it's inevitable that you must work when infected, make sure that you cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Rest as much as possible, which will accelerate recovery.
A visit to the doctor to get a prescription for antibiotics is the best course of treatment. These antibiotic drugs provide relief quite rapidly and help one recover faster. Walking pneumonia, though infectious, can be effectively contained with just a little care. Proper and timely medication will not only provide relief to those infected, but will also go a long way in helping to curb the spread of this highly contagious infection.