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How Calcium Causes a Shift To Chronic Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection which is often characterized as an inflammation in the alveoli. The alveoli are tiny sacs in the lungs that are responsible for gas exchange that is a vital part of breathing. These sacs become infected when pneumonia-causing ger

ms are breathed in and begin accumulating in the lungs. This infection can be caused by various types of fungi, parasites, bacteria or viruses.

Some of these pathogens are found in hospitals. About ten percent of all hospital infections, including pneumonia, are caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa [1]. This infection is extremely difficult to treat because it is very resistant to antibiotics. Many cases of pneumonia caused by pseudomonas aeruginosa shift from an acute case to a chronic case due to a specific interaction with calcium. The environment around the pathogen determines if the condition will switch from an acute stage with high growth rate, or a chronic state with increased tolerance and persistence. It has recently been discovered that calcium concentration in the environment transmits a signal into the cell that triggers the switch.

Generally, hospital infections which lead to pneumonia can be quite severe and many of these infections are a result of patients surviving with the aid of ventilators. In a study conducted by Fagon et al., assessing the exposure of risk in patients with pneumonia caused by hospital infections. The study concluded that the mortality rate was considerably higher due to hospital infections and it “prolonged the stay [of the patient] in the intensive care unit” [2].

Sources:

[1] “Calcium induces chronic lung infections.” Science Daily. 24 October 2016. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161024131112.htm

[2] Fagon, Jean-Yves, et al. “Nosocomial pneumonia in ventilated patients: a cohort study evaluating attributable mortality and hospital stay.” The American journal of medicine 94.3: 281-288. Accessed 25th October, 2016

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