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    What is Walking Pneumonia?

    Walking pneumonia" sounds like it could be the name of a sci-fi horror flick. But it's actually the least scary kind of pneumonia. It can be milder than the other types, and you usually don’t have to stay in the hospital. You could have walking pneumonia and not even know it.

    It Might Feel Like a Cold

    Walking pneumonia is how some people describe a mild case of pneumonia. Your doctor might call it “atypical pneumonia” because it’s not like more serious cases.

    A lung infection is often to blame. Lots of things can cause it, including:

    • Bacteria
    • Viruses
    • Fungi
    • Chemicals
    • Inhaled food

    Walking pneumonia usually is due to a bacterium called Mycoplasma pneumoniae.

    If you have this condition, you probably won’t have to stay in bed or in the hospital. You might even feel good enough go to work and keep up your regular routine, just as you might with a cold.

    Who Gets It?

    Anyone can get it. Walking pneumonia from mycoplasma is most common in children, military recruits, and adults younger than 40.

    People who live and work in crowded places -- such as schools, dorms, military barracks, and nursing homes -- are more likely to be exposed to it.

    Late summer and fall are the most common times of year for you to get walking pneumonia. But infections can happen throughout the year.

    Is It Contagious?

    Yes. It spreads through sneezes or coughs. But it spreads slowly. If you get it, you could be contagious (which means you could spread it to other people) for up to 10 days.

    Researchers think it takes a lot of close contact with an infected person for you to develop walking pneumonia. Still, there are widespread outbreaks every four to eight years.


    Symptoms generally start 15 to 25 days after you’re exposed to mycoplasma and slowly worsen over two to four days. You might have:

    Some people with walking pneumonia may also have an ear infection, anemia, or a skin rash.

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