What is the prevalence of viral pneumonia in pregnancy?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Acute viral pneumonia is common and often underdiagnosed in pregnancy. Although the severity of bacterial pneumonia does not seem to be increased in pregnancy, viral pneumonia can have a serious clinical evolution.

Among the viral pathogens, influenza virus, VZV, and measles virus are reported as etiologic agents in severe lower respiratory tract infection. The infection may result in acute respiratory decompensation, respiratory failure, and/or ARDS, which can lead to maternofetal hypoxia, preterm labor, multisystem organ failure, and even death.

Pregnant women seem to be at increased risk for influenza pneumonia. VZV pneumonia is rare but potentially lethal, with mortality rates of 35-40% in pregnant women, compared with 10% in the general population.

Measles virus can be a considerable cause of pneumonia in pregnant women. Further bacterial superinfection can complicate the clinical and radiologic picture.

Despite reports of a high mortality rate during outbreaks of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, no cases of maternal fatalities secondary to this disorder have been reported to date.

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