What's Going Around: pneumonia and strep throat

What's Going Around: pneumonia and strep throat
Pneumonia is typically a more common illness in the winter months, but it's being seen now, in the heart of spring. (Source: KPLC)

SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - You might think of pneumonia as a cold weather sickness, but it's what's going around this week, in the heart of spring.

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages.  West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital Chief of Hospital and Emergency Medicine, Dr. Tim Quattrone, says his staff has been busy treating patients with this infection.

"It was daily in March and now it's becoming a few a week," he said.

Dr. Quattrone says the symptoms mimic the flu.

"Cough, fever, congestion, very similar to the flu and a lot of people who have pneumonia think they have the flu, and also they'll get chest pains with it," said Dr. Quattrone.

A chest x-ray is needed to confirm the diagnosis of pneumonia and antibiotics can treat most forms.

"You can give them a shot of an antibiotic, put them on some oral antibiotics and they'll do well with that," said Dr. Quattrone.  The older people typically require the IV antibiotics."

In more serious cases, hospitalization is required, along with IV fluids.

The germs that cause pneumonia are spread through airborne droplets, which is why we can see it more in the colder months, when more people are indoors together.  Not so, this year, though.

"We don't have the winter that we normally have, so what ends up happening is that in the spring and summer, those normal winter illnesses that we see are popping up," said Dr. Quattrone.  "It did the same thing last year."

Dr. Quattrone says he is also seeing lots of strep throat, although it is looking different than usual.

"We typically see (pus-covered) tonsils, it's red, it's inflamed, you see the white discharge on the tonsils and now the throats look normal and they're coming back with positive strep tests," he said.

Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with discomfort, but antibiotics are also typically needed to kick that bug to the curb.

Frequent handwashing and wiping down common surfaces are the best prevention tools for both strep throat and pneumonia.  One of the biggest complications from pneumonia is sepsis, which requires aggressive treatment with fluids and antibiotics.

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