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Pneumonia is infection of lung parenchymal tissue. This can be caused by any
sort of microorganism ranging from bacteria to viruses to fungi. Doctors
classify pneumonias into community acquired pneumonia (both from typical and
atypical organisms), nosocomial pneumonia, immune compromised pneumonia,
chronic pneumonia and aspiration pneumonia.
Before the advent of antibiotics, pneumonia was often fatal, but most
community-acquired pneumonias are readily treatable today. Many patients
with pneumonia are treated by their own general practitioner and never
admitted to hospital. This is often called walking pneumonia because
although they can be very ill the patients are still mobile. Some people
with walking pneumonia never realise they are ill at all, but merely feel
'run down' and exhausted.
The most common cause of community-acquired pneumonia is Streptococcus
pneumoniae, also known as Pneumococcus.
Pneumonia is a serious illness, especially among the elderly and the
immuno-compromised. AIDS patients frequently contract pneumocystis
pneumonia, an otherwise rare form of the disease. Persons with cystic
fibrosis are also at very high risk of pneumonia because fluid continually
accumulates in their lungs.
In the second quarter of 2003, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a
new form of atypical pneumonia, worried doctors who feared that it may
become a pandemic, but by July it appeared to be contained.