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Pneumocystis Infections

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What is Pneumocystis jirovecii?

Pneumocystis jirovecii is a fungus that is common throughout the world. Many people have been exposed to it as children. Some people have the fungus in their lungs. If you are healthy, it usually will not make you sick. But it can make you sick if you have a weakened immune system, for example if you:

How does Pneumocystis jirovecii spread?

Pneumocystis jirovecii can spread from person to person through the air. You can spread it to others even if it isn't making you sick.

What is pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)?

The most common type of infection that Pneumocystis jirovecii causes is pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP). Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of the lungs. It causes the air sacs of the lungs to fill up with fluid or pus.

What are the symptoms of pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)?

The symptoms of PCP can develop over several days or weeks. They may include:

Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms that you think are related to PCP. Since PCP can be life-threatening, it's important to get early treatment.

How is pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) diagnosed?

To find out if you have PCP, your provider will take a sample of fluid or tissue from your lungs. You may cough up the sample (called sputum), have fluid collected during a bronchoalveolar lavage, or have tissue taken with a biopsy. They will send the sample to the lab to check for Pneumocystis.

What are the treatments for pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)?

The treatment for PCP is with antibiotics, either by mouth or intravenously (by IV). You need to take them for about 3 weeks. If you have a severe case of PCP, you might need treatment in the hospital.

Can pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) be prevented?

There is no vaccine to prevent PCP. Some people who are at high risk of getting PCP may need to take antibiotics to prevent it.

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The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.