Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lung or part of the lung, caused by general pneumococcal bacteria, respiratory syncytial virus or by fungi. Every year on November 12, World Pneumonia Day is celebrated, where an initiative is promoted by the Global Coalition against Childhood Pneumonia that tries to raise awareness of the danger that this disease can pose. Here are some facts about the disease:
Pneumonia is the leading cause of child death worldwide. According to data from the World Health Organization, it accounts for about 15% of all deaths of children under the age of five. This means that in 2016, almost 1 million children died from pneumonia.
It is a respiratory infection that causes inflammation and redness of the lung tissue, making breathing more difficult and painful. It also often leads to coughing up bloody mucus, chest pain, night sweats, fever, chills or weight loss. Rapid diagnosis is vital so that it does not become a serious and fatal disease.
Experts differentiate two types of existing pneumonia produced by pneumococcus or Streptococcus pneumoniae. The difference lies in whether or not the bacteria reaches the bloodstream, because if it infects the blood the infection is called bacteremic and represents between 25% and 45% of total cases. These cases are three times more deadly than non-bacteremic pneumonia.
In addition to children, the other population that runs the risk of the disease becoming a serious and even fatal pathology is that of people over 50 years of age due to the weaker immune system and the greater vulnerability of the lungs to possible attacks by bacteria and viruses. Clearly, those with chronic diseases such as COPD, diabetes or HIV (although not directly related to the respiratory system) are especially sensitive to pneumonia.
It is estimated that 70% of reported cases could be prevented with vaccines and antibiotics which, according to the United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC), cost less than 80 cents per person. WHO recommends protective measures for children (promoting breastfeeding, washing hands or reducing indoor air pollution) to reduce the risk of contracting the disease and which are accompanied by complementary prevention and treatment actions.
Tarik Jašareviæ, spokeswoman for the World Health Organization in 2015, said that "pneumonia can have a viral or bacteriological origin, or be a combination of both factors, and only that caused by bacteria can be prevented with vaccines and treated with antibiotics. But in reality, according to WHO's own data, in many cases pneumonia is a consequence of the poor treatment of other diseases such as measles or whooping cough.