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What Is Chlamydophila Pneumoniae?

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  • Written By: Clara Kedrek
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2016
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Chlamydophila pneumoniae (C. pneumoniae) is a bacterial species that can cause pneumonia, a lung infection, in humans. The bacterial species is also sometimes called Chlamydia pneumoniae. Symptoms of this infection include shortness of breath, fever, and an increased rate of breathing. Infection with this type of bacteria is often treated with a course of outpatient antibiotic medications.

The bacteria chlamydophila pneumoniae is a small species that lacks a sturdy cell wall. It needs to live inside host cells in order to reproduce, a characteristic typifying it as an obligate intracellular bacteria. The bacteria are often transmitted between people via respiratory secretions. Breathing in the bacteria allows it to settle in the lung tissue, reproduce within cells, and cause symptoms. A risk factor for developing the infection is being in a crowded environment, such as on a college campus or in a nursing home.

Symptoms caused by infection with chlamydophila pneumoniae are often referred to as “walking pneumonia.” Affected patients may experience a low-grade fever, cough, headache, pain when taking in a deep breath, shortness of breath, and fatigue for an extended period of time, often lasting for weeks. The symptoms are typically not severe enough that patients stay home from school or work.

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Diagnosis of lung infection with chlamydophila pneumoniae often relies on a history of clinical symptoms. Upon physical examination, doctors might hear wheezes in the lungs. Checking the patient’s vital signs might reveal an increased rate of breathing or an elevated core body temperature. Chest x-rays are often performed on these patients, and the resulting images may display diffuse abnormalities in the lung fields. A specific diagnosis of chlamydial pneumonia can be confirmed by taking a sample of respiratory secretions and testing this fluid for the presence of the bacteria.

Most patients do not require hospitalization for treatment of infection with chlamydophila pneumoniae. Many doctors prescribe a course of antibiotics to patients with this disease. Classes of antibiotics used include macrolides, fluoroquinolones, and tetracyclines. One commonly chosen medication is a macrolide class antibiotic called azithromycin, which is commonly referred to as “z-pack.”

Certain patients with a lung infection due to chlamydophila pneumoniae require hospitalization. Older patients, people with medical conditions such as diabetes, or individuals with severely increased rates of breathing are often hospitalized. People with asthma also might require special attention because the infection could trigger asthma attacks.

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