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Pneumonia is not a specific disease, but a condition of inflamed lungs. It is most commonly associated with infection by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, but viral, fungal and allergic forms exist.

Symptoms vary with each type of pneumonia. Milder pneumonias have flu-like symptoms - a fever, chills, and a cough, which usually manifest three or four days after exposure. The bacterial pneumonias are usually more serious, with chest pain, sputum with blood, a high fever and even delirium. Respiration and pulse rates are elevated and may double.

Streptococcal pneumonia is spread from person to person in airborne droplets; you can begin to show symptoms within hours of being infected. Another serious bacterial pneumonia, Legionnaire's disease, is typically spread by misting water which has been stagnating in hot water and air-conditioning systems. (The presence of algae can be an indicator of stagnant water.) Pneumonia caused by Legionnaire's disease requires anywhere from two to ten days to manifest symptoms.

Bottom line for deep sea sailors: Don't take chances. If you see signs of pneumonia, seek medical help immediately.

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