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Viral Infections in Childhood: Viral Pneumonia


Pneumonia, an infection of the deep, spongy parts of the lungs, can also be caused by viruses.

Symptoms and Signs

Viral pneumonia causes cough with fever, chills and rapid breathing. It is most common in young children, peaking between ages 2 and 3. Children with pneumonia may complain of chest pain or abdominal pain, and they often wheeze or make a grunt when they breathe. Infants with pneumonia may need to work very hard to draw in air, so their chest muscles may retract (pull in abnormally) as they struggle to take each breath. They may also have bluish lips or fingernails if too little air is reaching their lungs.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Children with pneumonia may need hospital treatment if they aren't breathing well, or if their respiratory infection is making them dehydrated. In the hospital they can be given oxygen to breathe, and they can take fluids intravenously. If tests show that their infection is caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine (e.g. ribavirin). If there is any chance that bacteria, not viruses, are causing your child's pneumonia, your doctor will probably prescribe an antibiotic.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1., Children's Health Section:

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Contact Last modified: Jun 25 2002