Pneumonia is a common illness in all parts of the world. It is a major cause of death among all age groups. In children, many of these deaths occur in the newborn period. The World Health Organization estimates that one in three newborn infant deaths are due to pneumonia. Over two million children under five die each year worldwide. WHO also estimates that up to 1 million of these (vaccine preventable) deaths are caused by the bacteria ''Streptococcus pneumoniae'', and over 90% of these deaths take place in developing countries. Mortality from pneumonia generally decreases with age until late adulthood. Elderly individuals, however, are at particular risk for pneumonia and associated mortality. Because of the very high burden of disease in developing countries and because of a relatively low awareness of the disease in industrialized countries, the global health community has declared November 2 to be World Pneumonia Day, a day for concerned citizens and policy makers to take action against the disease.
In the United Kingdom, the annual incidence of pneumonia is approximately 6 cases for every 1000 people for the 18–39 age group. For those over 75 years of age, this rises to 75 cases for every 1000 people. Roughly 20–40% of individuals who contract pneumonia require hospital admission of which between 5–10% are admitted to a critical care unit. Similarly, the mortality rate in the UK is around 5–10%. These individuals are also more likely to have repeated episodes of pneumonia. People who are hospitalized for any reason are also at high risk for pneumonia.
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