Pneumocystis jiroveci Pneumonia (Carinii) – Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

Although Bacteria and Viruses are major causative agents of Pneumonia; however there are some forms of pneumonia that are caused by fungi.

One such fungal infection of the lungs is caused by fungus Pneumocystis jiroveci and called as Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia.

Causes of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia

The fungus responsible for causing Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia is Pneumocystis jiroveci. It is commonly found in our environment and is generally harmless in healthy people. However it causes infection in immunocompromised patients.

Risk Factors of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia

There are certain patients who are at high risk of getting Pneumocystis jiroveci Pneumonia.

                    Individuals who are taking treatment for cancer

                    Individuals who have HIV/AIDS

                    Individuals who have undergone Organ or bone marrow transplant

                    Individuals who are on chronic use of corticosteroids

                    Individuals who are on immunosuppressive medications

Symptoms of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia

The symptoms of Pneumocystis pneumonia in patients suffering from AIDS are less severe, develop gradually and may even take months to appear. 

In case of patients infected with pneumocystis pneumonia but without AIDS/HIV show more severe symptoms that develop rapidly.

Common Symptoms of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia

                    Dry Cough

                    Fever

                    Rapid breathing

                    Shortness of breath that worsens on exertion

Diagnostic test of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia

The diagnostic tests for detecting the presence of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia may comprises of following tests.

                    Chest X-ray to get detailed images of internal structures such as lungs

                    Sputum gram stain for detecting the presence and type of bacteria/infectious agents

                    Blood culture for identifying the type of infectious agent

                    Complete blood count for detecting the increased number of WBC 

                    Bronchoscopy involves insertion of bronchoscope into airways and respiratory tract via mouth or nose for collecting sample from inside the airways.

                    Chest CT scan is done in rare and severe cases

                    Lung biopsy is done in rare cases where a piece of lung tissue is extracted from body for examination.

Treatment of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia

The treatment therapy of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia may differ from one patient to another depending on the severity of the symptoms.

                    Oral antibiotics are given for less severe cases

                    Intravenous antibiotics are administered in severe cases

                    The corticosteroids are prescribed for patients whose blood oxygen level reduces below a certain level.

                    Oxygen therapy is administered to those patients who have low oxygen level in their bloodstream.

                    Patients are administered with chest therapy that includes chest tapping, incentive spirometry, rhythmic inhalation and coughing.

Prevention of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia

Preventive therapy is suggested in the patients with compromised immune system.

                    Patients with AIDS/HIV

                    Bone marrow transplant recipients

                    Organ transplant recipients

                    Individuals who are on long-term, high-dose corticosteroids

                    Individuals who were infected by this disease earlier

Complications of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia

The severe cases of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia may lead to various life threatening complications as mentioned below.

                    Respiratory failure

                    Pleural effusion

                    Pneumothorax