Usually not, but some types can be.
Most pneumonias come from bacteria we carry in our noses and throats. The bacteria can occasionally gain entry into the deepest parts of our lungs, where they multiply and cause a pneumonia. Some bacterial pneumonias occur when oral or nasal secretions are aspirated during sleep.
Because we “catch” these bacteria from ourselves, these pneumonias are not contagious in the way a cold virus is. However, these bacteria sometimes do get passed from person to person in the population.
Mycoplasma pneumonia is a common cause of “walking pneumonia” in young adults, and is highly contagious. Tuberculosis (TB) is a special type of bacterial pneumonia that is contagious. TB is very uncommon in the U.S., although people that work in health care are at higher risk. Mycoplasma pneumonia and TB are typically spread by breathing in droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person.
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