• Children's Center

    Mayo Clinic Minute: Does your child have walking pneumonia?

Classrooms are not only great settings for learning, they’re also the right environment for the spread of infections among students.

Walking pneumonia is one of the illnesses that increases in fall when kids are together in classrooms. That's because walking pneumonia is contagious and spread when a student comes in contact with a classmate who is already infected.

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Walking pneumonia is caused by a bacteria that can have you down but not out.

"Usually people with this infection are well enough to kind of be up and about – even though they have an infection going on at the time," says Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist.

Dr. Rajapakse says walking pneumonia is a lung tissue infection spread, in part, through the droplets of coughs and sneezes. Symptoms include a fever, cough and sore throat – sometimes combined with difficulty breathing caused by shortness of breath and chest pain.

"So if you think you might have walking pneumonia or any type of pneumonia, it’s a good idea to see your physician or your primary care provider," explains Dr. Rajapakse.

If a physical exam is inconclusive, Dr. Rajapakse says your health care provider may order a chest X-ray.

"Sometimes, it’s difficult just from looking at a patient and listening to their chest to know for sure," she says. "So, in those situations, it’s helpful to get a picture of the lungs to see whether there is any area of infection that’s visible."

Dr. Rajapakse says most people can recover from walking pneumonia without medication. However, if the symptoms are very severe, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to treat it.