Hillary Clinton, while on the campaign trail, has been diagnosed with pneumonia. While the disease is not in peak season, Hillary Clinton’s infection with pneumonia should come as no surprise.
Pneumonia – commonly caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae – is known to be in peak transmission during with winter and early spring months. The exact reason for an increase of cases during these times is not known, but include increased shedding of virus-laden mucus, increased indoor contacts, and climactic factors that contribute to the livelihood of viruses and bacteria.
Out of peak season, people can be carriers of strep pneumonia, while still being healthy. These healthy carriers can transmit the virus at any time to persons at increased risk of infection. Increased risk of infection can be due simply to age >65 years, heightened psychological and physical stress, and increased contact with people carrying the disease. All three of these risk factors fit Hillary Clinton, who alongside Donald Trump, are two of the oldest presidential candidates in history, both working overtime to lock in more votes, while shaking hands with Americans all across the country.
So, Hillary Clinton’s infection with pneumonia is less likely due to some underlying medical illness as it is to the strenuous workload and increased contact she is putting in on the campaign trail. However, as we move into the fall and the colder months of 2016, Americans should remember that influenza and pneumonia season is just around the corner. Routine vaccination against influenza can significantly reduce risk of infection, while common practices such as hand washing and vigilance can reduce the risk of other bacterial and viral infections like pneumonia and RSV.