Understanding Pneumocystis Infection: Causes, Treatment, and Recovery

2024-02-21 19:47:52

February 22, 2024

Dr. Wang Jianfang
Small talk

Mr. Ye (pseudonym), 59, suffered from renal failure due to diabetes. He had a kidney transplant half a year ago. The transplanted kidney had a rejection reaction and had to be controlled with high-dose steroids to preserve the function of the transplanted kidney.

However, not long after he was discharged from the hospital, Mr. Ye developed dry cough and asthma. He felt out of breath even walking from the living room to his room. The family was very worried about Mr. Ye’s condition and immediately sent him to the hospital.

An X-ray revealed that both of his lungs were inflamed and his blood oxygen content was only 83%. Coupled with his history of using high-dose steroids, the doctor immediately thought of Pneumocystis pneumonia infection. Therefore, Mr. Ye was arranged to undergo a bronchial endoscopy, samples were taken, stained, and examined under a microscope, and the diagnosis of Pneumocystis pneumonia was confirmed.

Despite its name, Pneumocystis is not a parasite but a fungus. Pneumocystis was first discovered under a microscope in 1909 by Dr. Chagas, who specialized in parasites. He believed that its shape was similar to the trypanosomes he specialized in, so he classified it as a parasite. With the development of science, scientists further studied Pneumocystis cyst, conducted genetic sequencing analysis, and found that its genes are closer to fungi than parasites. Therefore, it was classified as a fungus, and the Latin name was changed, but the Chinese name still uses the old “Pneumocystis”.

Pneumocystis worm can be found in the surrounding environment and can also live in the human body. Pneumocystis is one of the pathogens that cause opportunistic infections. That is, the disease caused by Pneumocystis is rare in ordinary people, but it can occur in people with low immunity such as AIDS patients, organ transplant patients, or those undergoing cancer treatment. It can cause fatal pneumonia. If it can be detected early, given appropriate treatment, and the patient’s weak immunity can be reversed, there is a chance to quickly control the infection. After Mr. Ye was diagnosed with Pneumocystis pneumonia, the need for anti-rejection drugs was further reduced. Coupled with the antibiotics used to treat Pneumocystis, he was finally able to go home safely. His family felt very relieved.

The author is a specialist in clinical microbiology and infectious diseases

[信健康] What you need to know about Pneumocystis infection, please pay attention to the doctor’s information![Morehealthinformation:health.hkej.com

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