Streptococcus pneumoniae can cause infections deep within the lungs, attacking and inflaming the alveoli (the lung's minute, saclike surfaces at which oxygen transfer takes place). Without prompt treatment, this pneumococcal pneumonia may trigger a rapid accumulation of fluid in the lungs, severely impeding oxygen transfer and resulting in mortality rates of 30%. Even with treatment, up to 10% mortality is reported.

Pneumonia may also be caused by viruses, other bacteria (e.g., Klebsiella pneumoniae, an opportunistic pathogen), and some fungi (e.g., Histoplasma, Aspergillus).

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