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How Contagious Is Pneumonia?

My son has bacterial pneumonia, and I'm worried that my other kids will catch it too. What can I do to help prevent it from spreading to the rest of my family?
- Joanna

The bacteria and viruses that cause pneumonia can be contagious. But once your son is taking the proper antibiotics for his bacterial infection, there is a minimal risk of passing the organism on. Check with the doctor about your son’s specific case.

Encourage everyone in your household to wash their hands often and correctly (for at least 20 seconds, rubbing hands together with soap and warm water), especially after touching any used tissues or handkerchiefs. Avoid sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, towels, or toothbrushes.

Also make sure your children are up to date on their immunizations to help protect them from future infections.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: April 2012

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