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Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)

for Veterans and the Public

Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PCP)

Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PCP) is caused by a fungus that is found in many places in the environment. Nearly two out of three children have been exposed to it by age 4. However, PCP usually occurs in persons with a CD4 count of less than 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. Starting combination antiretroviral therapy before your CD4 count gets this low, or, if you already have a CD4 count of less than 200, taking daily doses of protective antibiotics, greatly reduces the risk of developing PCP. The fungus can affect many organs, the most common being the lung.

Symptoms can include:

  • fever
  • shortness of breath
  • dry cough
  • night sweats or fatigue

The usual treatment is with antibiotics.

After completing treatment, if you experience shortness of breath (especially with exercise), fever, chills and sweats, or a new cough, see your doctor.