How Contagious Is Pneumonia?

My son has bacterial pneumonia, and I'm worried that my other children 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.

It's a good idea to encourage everyone in your household to wash their hands frequently and correctly (for at least 20 seconds, rubbing hands together with soap and warm water). Don’t let your son share his drinking glasses, eating utensils, towels, or toothbrush, and remind him (and anyone else) to wash their hands after touching any used tissues or handkerchiefs. Also make sure that your children are up to date on their immunizations to help protect them from future infections.

For more information, check out these articles.
Pneumonia
Why Is Hand Washing So Important?

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: April 2009

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