General Description: Pneumonia, an infection of the lung caused by bacteria or viruses, is characterized by fever, cough, chest pain, sputum production, shortness of breath, and weakness. Among the most common bacterial agents of community acquired pneumonia in healthy adults are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Legionella pneumophila, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Among the viruses detected in one hospital-based study were influenza, parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and rhinovirus.21 The need for hospitalization or treatment as an outpatient may be dependent upon the virulence of the infectious agent, the patient’s age and comorbidities, and tobacco use.
Mode of Transmission: Most commonly, person-to-person transmission; many individuals have asymptomatic colonization with the infectious agents. Environmental airborne dissemination of Legionella from water cooling towers and excavation sites has been documented in outbreaks.
Efficiency of Transmission/Attack Rate: For most agents of pneumonia, illness in casual contacts or attendants is infrequent.
Period of Communicability: Varies among infectious agents. Isolation is not applicable; encourage hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
Effect on LEO Fitness for Duty: The acute symptoms of community associated pneumonia may cause temporary total disability. Depending upon the severity of the illness, return to active duty is affected by the time required for the lungs to return to normal, and recovery of strength, stamina, and the situational awareness required to perform essential job functions.
LEO-specific Clinical Studies and Reports: None known.