Bacterial Pneumonia

Bacterial pneumonia can attack anyone from infants through the very old.
The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in adults is a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae or Pneumococcus.

Pneumococcus GIFPneumococcus


Pneumococcal pneumonia occurs only in the lobar form. When a person's resistance is lowered, bacteria invade the lungs and inflame the air sacs. The tissue of part of a lobe of the lung, an entire lobe, or even most of all the five lobes, becomes completely filled with liquid matter. The infection quickly spreads through the bloodstream and the bacteria infects the whole body. It is the only form of pneumonia for which a vaccine is available.


The onset of bacterial pneumonia can vary from gradual to sudden. Characteristic symptoms are:

  • shaking chills
  • chattering
  • severe chest pain
  • a cough that produces rust-coloured or greenish sputum
  • temperature often shoots up as high as 105°F (41°C)
  • breathing and pulse rate increase rapidly
  • lips and nailbeds may have a bluish cast from lack of oxygen in the blood
  • mental state may be clouded or delirious

Are You At Risk

Those who may be at greatest risk for pneumococcal disease are usually those who:

  • Are 65 years of age or older

Other groups at increased risk are children more than 2 years of age and adults who:

  • Have chronic illnesses, such as heart, lung, and kidney disease, diabetes, alcoholism, do not have a spleen (asplenia), or whose spleens do not work well
  • Have HIV infection, or other conditions associated with an impaired immune system
  • Live in nursing homes or other chronic care facilities
  • Have cancer, Hodgkin's disease for example, and are about to undergo treatment

Page Last Updated: 03/02/2015