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Are bronchitis, pneumonia, or shingles contagious?

Get the information on the three illnesses and what you can do to protect yourself from them.

India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (L) wears a face mask as he listens to remarks from Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne.
William WestAFP

Covid-19 has been the disease on everyone's lips for the last two years. Slipping under the radar are two other respiratory illnesses, bronchitis and pneumonia, as well as the skin condition shingles. These illnesses can be fatal, or lead to other illnesses which can kill as well.

Knowing which illnesses are contagious is important for preventing others from contracting it too.


The pulmonary disease Bronchitis is an infection of the main airways of the lungs, the bronchi.

Symptoms include a sore throat and a cough, similar to a cold or covid-19. The cough can last for several weeks in serious cases. While it cannot kill you, it can lead to pneumonia, which certainly can. it is advised to seek medical help if you have a fever or temperature for more than three days.

Chronic bronchitis, caused by a general infection of the airways, it not contagious. however, acute bronchitis, caused by viral or bacterial infection is. Due to the common coughing symptom this makes the disease easy to transmit.


Pneumonia is the inflammation of tissue in the lungs. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection, but can also be caused by covid-19.

Symptoms include a cough and difficulty breathing, as well as chest pain and a high temperature. At the very least, mild pneumonia will can be treated by antibiotics if it is an bacterial infection. For certain groups, such as those with weak immune systems, Pneumonia can be a fatal condition.

It is contagious, often through coughs and sneezes. Tiny droplets of infected fluid spread into the air, causing the non-infected party to breath in the germ particles.


Shingles is an infection of the nerves and surrounding skin. The main symptom is pain, followed by a rash that blisters and becomes very itchy, similar in appearance to chicken pox.

You should get it looked at as soon as you realize you might have it as early treatment may help reduce the severity and risk of developing complications. One serious complication is pneumonia.

It is not possible to catch shingles from someone with the condition. However, it is possible to develop chickenpox from contact with a person that has shingles if you haven’t had either before. People with shingles are contagious until the blisters have dried and scabbed over.


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