What is the Incubation Period for Bacterial Pneumonia?


Bacterial pneumonia, which is one of five major categories of the disease, has an incubation period of one to three days.(1) The other major forms of pneumonia come from viruses, mycoplasmas, chemicals, and other infectious agents such as fungi.

Streptococcus Pneumoniae

Between 60% and 80% of bacterial pneumonia is caused by the organisms known scientifically as Streptococcus pneumoniae. Everyone has these in their upper respiratory area, but when these same organisms make their way to the lower portion of the respiratory tract and the individual in question is susceptible to infection, it can lead to bacterial pneumonia.

The antibiotics of penicillin and erythromycin immediately suppress the contagious aspects of the disease, while a vaccination taken beforehand can protect up to 90% of the patients who would otherwise be likely to develop the above mentioned lower respiratory tract infection. People over the age of 65 meanwhile should ideally get a booster shot with pneumonia vaccine elements every six years.

Sixth Most Common Cause of Death

An estimated 45,000 people perish each year in the U.S. from pneumonia, making it the sixth most common cause of death in the country and the most common infectious cause of death.(2) The costs to the U.S. health care system have also been rising; the annual outlay for treatment has been pegged at no less than $23 billion, while the expenses associated with inpatient care of pneumonia victims has been increasing dramatically in recent years.

Other bacteria that can lead to community-acquired pneumonia include H. influenzae, S. aureus, and Streptococcus pyogenes. The first is most common among senior citizens, which leads some to also get influenza shots every year. The second and third are much rarer, and really only crop up when there is some kind of localized influenza epidemic.

Serious cases of bacterial pneumonia can cause a person’s body temperature to rise as high as 105 degrees. Along with that, profuse sweating, high heart rates, and rapid breathing may also be in evidence.



(1) New Mexico State University – Pneumonia, Retrieved June 21, 2011 from http://medplant.nmsu.edu/Diseases/pneumonia/pneumonia.htm

(2) University of South Carolina – Lower Respiratory Tract Infections, Retrieved June 21, 2011 from http://pathmicro.med.sc.edu/infectious%20disease/lower%20respiratory%20tract.htm