Increasing cases of pneumonia in children, especially the fatal cases, cause concern and this will figure prominently in the campaign on World Pneumonia Day in Coimbatore on November 12, the Indian Academy of Paediatrics’ Coimbatore branch has said.

The campaign will highlight the incidence rate, the leading factors that cause the disease and the ways to prevent occurrence.

Explaining that pneumonia is an acute respiratory disease in which the lungs were infected by bacteria, virus, fungus or parasite, the IAP said in a press release that globally the disease accounted for 20 per cent of deaths among children aged under five.

The academy also said that 45 million new cases of pneumonia occurred in children aged below five in India every year.

High risk

IAP Coimbatore president Usha Elango said children, including premature babies, aged 24 to 59 months were at high risk of contracting pneumococcal infections if they had underdeveloped lungs, narrow airways, poor nutrition and immune system.

Former president of the Coimbatore branch Nandhini Kumaran said there was a rise in the cases of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Preventive measures such as vaccination should be adopted.

Former IAP president T.M. Manickaraj said pneumonia led to life-threatening complications if not diagnosed early and treated properly. Children must be taken to paediatricians if they had high fever, cold, cough, chest congestion and breathing difficulty for more than two days.

Elderly persons

Touching upon the impact of pneumonia in elderly persons, director of Kovai Respiratory Care and Research Centre Jayamohan Unnithan said in a release that vaccination played a key preventive role in persons aged above 50. But, people did not realise the importance largely due to lack of awareness.

It was important to note that even healthy elderly persons could be vulnerable to pneumococcal disease, because old age itself was a risk factor.

Risk

Risk of mortality was high among persons aged over 65.

The high risk group consists of people with chronic heart, liver, kidney and lung (including asthma) diseases, those with cancer and also diabetes.

Smoking and alcoholism made matters worse.