Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia classification

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]




The name P. jirovecii, to distinguish the organism found in humans from physiological variants of Pneumocystis found in other animals, was first proposed in 1976, in honor of Otto Jirovec, who described Pneumocystis pneumonia in humans in 1952. After DNA analysis showed significant differences in the human variant, the proposal was made again in 1999 and has come into common use; P. carinii still describes the species found in rats[1] and that name is typified by an isolate from rats.[2] The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN) requires that the name to be spelled jirovecii rather than jiroveci. The latter spelling originated when Pneumocystis was believed to be a protozoan, rather than a fungus, and therefore was spelled using the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature; both spellings are commonly used. A change in the ICBN in 2005 now recognizes the validity of the 1976 publication, making the 1999 proposal redundant, and cites Pneumocystis and P. jirovecii as examples of the change in ICBN Article 45, Ex 8. The name P. jirovecii is typified (both lectotypified and epitypified) by samples from human autopsies dating from the 1960s.[2]

The term PCP, which was widely used by practitioners and patients, has been retained for convenience, with the rationale that it now stands for the more general Pneumocystis pneumonia rather than Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia.


  1. Stringer JR, Beard CB, Miller RF, Wakefield AE (2002). "A new name (Pneumocystis jiroveci) for Pneumocystis from humans". Emerg Infect Dis. 8 (9): 891–6. PMID 12194762.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Redhead SA, Cushion MT, Frenkel JK, Stringer JR (2006). "Pneumocystis and Trypanosoma cruzi: nomenclature and typifications". J Eukaryot Microbiol. 53 (1): 2–11. PMID 16441572.