Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia: The Causes, Symptoms, and How to Treat It

By | May 12, 2019
Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia

Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) is a serious infection which causes inflammation and the buildup of fluid in the lungs. PCP is caused by a fungus called Pneumocystis jiroveci. This fungus often found and can be spread through the air. Most people who are exposed to this fungus will not get sick if their immune system is healthy. However, in people with weak immune systems, such as people with HIV/AIDS, this fungus can cause pneumonia. Because of these characteristics, PCP, also known as opportunistic infectious diseases. PCP can affect other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, liver, and bone marrow.

Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) or Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia is the opportunistic infections that can occur in immunocompromised patients. In patients with HIV, PCP is the most common opportunistic infection, especially in patients with less than 200 CD4 cells/µl.

At first, position in microbial taxonomy is still uncertain since it was discovered in 1909, and by the time it was still considered that this microbe is the stage of development of Trypanosoma. Since then, there has been no universal agreement on whether these microbes belong to the protist or fungus. Further analysis of the RNA is done and some particular structure suggests a closer relationship with fungi (classified in the Deuteromycetes class).

The Cause Of The PCP (Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia).

PCP is caused by a fungus that is present in the body of almost everyone. In the past, the fungus is called Pneumocystis carinii, but scientists now use the name of Pneumocystis jiroveci, but the disease still was quickly abbreviated as PCP. A healthy immune system can control this fungus. However, PCP causes illness in older people and children with a weakened immune system.

The Pneumocystis fungus almost always affects the lungs, causes a form of pneumonia. Most who experience PCP disease become much weaker, losing weight, and probably will experience the PCP again.

Signs and symptoms of Pneumocystis Carinii pneumonia.

Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia Symptoms

Symptoms can start slowly and slowly getting serious. The first sign of PCP are shortness of breath, cough without progressive phlegm dyspnea, tachypnea and cyanosis, fever may not appear. You may be exposed to other symptoms such as weight loss, discomfort in the chest, and chills. There may be symptoms not mentioned above. If you have concerns about a symptom, consult your doctor.

Signs of auscultation in addition to ronchi, other symptoms are usually minimal and even doesn’t exist. On the thoracic photi typically showed a bilateral interstitial infiltrates. A postmortem examination found on Lung weight without air, alveolar septum which thickened and in alveolar space found material which contain the parasite.

The diagnosis of PCP is very difficult because the symptoms, examination of the blood, as well as the thoracic radiography not is pathognomonic for PCP. However, PCP that are not handled are almost always fatal. Oral or intravenous trimetroprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMX-SMX) for 21 days is the drug of choice for managing PCP with or without HIV.

Today, with the availability of antiretroviral therapy (ART), the number of PCP decreased dramatically. Unfortunately, PCP is still common in people living with HIV are late in seeking treatment or not yet knowing thier HIV-infected. Actually, 30-40% of people living with HIV will develop PCP if they wait until the CD4 count of approximately 50. The best way to prevent PCP is with HIV test to know the infection early.

PCP Degrees.

Degree of PCP divided into 3 namely:


Shortness of breath on medium exercises, PaO2 more than 70 mmHg in room temperature at rest.


Shortness of breath on light exercises, PaO2 between 50-70 mmHg at room temperature at rest, AaDO2 more than 30 mmHg or oxygen saturation less than 94%.


Shortness of breath at rest or PaO2 is less than 50 mmHg in room temperature.

Read also: Water in lungs: The causes, symptoms, How to prevent and Treat it

How is PCP treated?

Treatment PCP is with antibiotics, the doctor will diagnose appropriately and provide the appropriate medication.

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