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Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) can vary from a mild outpatient illness to a more severe disease requiring admission to a hospital or even an intensive care unit (ICU). Along with influenza, CAP is the eighth leading cause of death in persons older than age 65 in the United States and is the leading cause of death from infectious diseases. In contrast to hospital-acquired pneumonia, CAP occurs in the community. This distinction is becoming increasingly blurred because persons in contact with health care environments, such as nursing homes and chronic hemodialysis centers, and those recently discharged from the hospital may be infected with multidrug resistant organisms. These infections have been termed "health care–associated pneumonia." The key management decisions are recognizing and treating CAP in a timely and effective manner, defining the appropriate site of care (home, hospital, or ICU), and ensuring effective prevention.
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