How contagious is pneumonia?

Q: My son has bacterial pneumonia and I'm worried that my other children will catch it too. What can I do to help prevent it from spreading to the rest of my family?
- Joanna

A: Strictly speaking, pneumonia itself is not contagious, but the bacteria and viruses that sometimes cause pneumonia can be. Once your son is taking the proper antibiotics for his bacterial infection, there should be minimal risk of passing the organism on; though you'll want to speak with your doctor about that.

It's a good idea to encourage everyone in your household to wash their hands frequently and correctly (for at least 20 seconds, rubbing hands together with soap and water). Keep your son's drinking glasses and eating utensils separate from those of other family members, and remember to wash your hands after handling any used tissues or handkerchiefs.