Dr Asif Sattar Image Credit: Supplied

Pneumonia is a serious illness that can affect people in any age group, but most dangerous for children under two years, adults over 65 and those with underlying medical conditions like cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung conditions, diabetes and cancer to name a few.

It is caused by a number of infectious agents, including viruses, bacteria and fungi. One of the most common forms of pneumonia is caused by bacteria Streptococcus pneumonia. It is highly contagious and individuals who carry the bacteria in their nasal passages may potentially expose others to the risk of developing the disease through close contact via respiratory droplets that are sneezed, coughed or exhaled. Symptoms are presented through fever, shaking chills, cough and shortness of breath.

Pneumonia is preventable and the economic as well as social burden associated with the disease can be easily avoided by taking proactive measures like vaccination, addressing environmental factors like indoor air pollution, good hygiene at homes with big families, proper nourishment and seeking promt medical attention as soon as the symptoms are detected.

The disease has accounted for 15 per cent of all deaths of children under five years, killing an estimated 922,000 children in 2015. A retrospective analysis in the UAE examined rates of community and hospital-acquired pneumonia which revealed the average age of patients as 58 years, and the most common co-morbidities were diabetes mellitus (21 per cent), malignancy (20 per cent) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (19 per cent).

We strongly encourage the adoption of immunisation to protect families against the disease and help prevent its spread through mitigation of the risk factors.

The writer is consultant pulmonoligist, Mediclinic City Hospital, Dubai