How Long Is Pneumonia Contagious?

  • Medical Author:
    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Ask the experts

How long after you begin antibiotic treatment for pneumonia are you no longer contagious to other people?

Doctor's response

Pneumonia is caused by a variety of organisms, therefore depending on the organism that causes a particular case of pneumonia, the time that one is contagious varies. Some cases of pneumonia are spread by aerosolized particles (airborne infectious organisms), but most are acquired by organisms that are already in your mouth. Tuberculosis can also cause pneumonia, and it can take two weeks or longer of therapy before an infected person is no longer contagious. The most common types of pneumonia, like pneumococcal pneumonia, require other conditions besides exposure to an infected person to spread. For more, please read the Pneumonia article.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


"Epidemiology, pathogenesis, and microbiology of community-acquired pneumonia in adults"

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Reviewed on 7/5/2017