How common is viral pneumonia?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Viruses account for the largest proportion of childhood pneumonia. Viral pneumonia decreases in frequency in healthy young and middle-aged adults, but it then increases substantially among the elderly. Studies on community-acquired pneumonias consistently demonstrate viruses to be the second most common etiologic cause (behind Streptococcus pneumoniae), ranging from 13-50% of diagnosed cases. [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]

The reported incidence of viral pneumonia has increased during the past decade. In part, this apparent increase simply reflects improved diagnostic techniques, but an actual increase has also appeared to occur. This observation is explained by the growing population of patients who are immunocompromised. [8] (See Epidemiology.)

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