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No case of China illness, mycoplasma pneumoniae, in AIIMS Delhi | Health and Wellness News

Media reports claiming detection of bacterial cases in AIIMS, Delhi, linked to the recent surge in pneumonia cases in China “are misleading and inaccurate,” according to an AIIMS statement.

While the latest outbreak in China, which has affected children the most, has sent alarm bells ringing across all nations, AIIMS has clarified that there was no reason to panic. “Mycoplasma pneumonia is the commonest bacterial cause of community-acquired pneumonia. Pneumonia cases in AIIMS Delhi have no link to the recent surge in respiratory infections in children in China,” it said in a release.

The bacterial infection is making headlines as it has resurfaced in patches across the globe. While the world had witnessed a decline in common respiratory infections during the pandemic owing to measures such as social distancing and masking, the numbers are bouncing back as restrictions have been done away with and the immunity to the bacteria has waned among people during this period. Besides, many experts believe that the overuse of antibiotics to treat it, like Azithromycin in particular, has made the bacteria drug-resistant and stubborn. Hence the higher numbers.

An international consortium monitoring mycoplasma pneumoniae infections in a paper published earlier this year warned that when the infection does emerge, it is likely to result in “rare severe disease and extra-pulmonary manifestations” with waning herd immunity and populations not exposed to the infection for years. A paper published by the consortium on the same day as WHO’s statement about the situation in China said that after three years, there were signs of resurgence in mycoplasma pneumoniae in Europe and Asia.

However, mycoplasma pneumoniae is not a new bacteria and has been around for some time but as the outbreak in China shows, it has been widespread at the community level. It infiltrates both sides of the lungs, increasing cough and breathing difficulties. It damages the lining of the respiratory system (throat, lungs, windpipe). People can have the bacteria in their nose or throat at one time or another without being ill. There can be a fall in oxygen levels. When it descends to the lungs very quickly, it causes pneumonia. That’s why you need to limit your exposure to any person sneezing or persistent coughing in a closed or crowded environment.

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The risk of contracting the infection peaks in winter. Children may report a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, watery eyes, wheezing, skin rashes, body ache, vomitting and diarrhoea.

Patients have been treated with this bacterial infection for years. Under the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) guidelines, antibiotics are in place for infection control. Azithromycin controls the infection in children while Doxycycline and Moxifloxacin can be used to treat adults.

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