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Global Surge in 'Walking Pneumonia' Cases: A Closer Look

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BNN Correspondents
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Global Surge in 'Walking Pneumonia' Cases: A Closer Look

Surges in pneumonia cases, primarily attributed to the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae, have been reported in various countries, including China and several European nations. A report from the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi published in the Lancet Microbe journal reveals the detection of this bacterium in seven samples over a six-month period from April to September 2023.

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Mycoplasma pneumoniae: The Delayed Re-emergence

The report, titled 'Mycoplasma pneumoniae: delayed re-emergence after COVID-19 pandemic restrictions,' provides an in-depth examination of how non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) against COVID-19 resulted in a global decline in the detection of M pneumoniae. Interestingly, the incidence of this bacterium saw a further decrease in the second year after the introduction of NPIs, a period that coincided with the resurgence of other respiratory pathogens. This re-emergence aligns with the easing of pandemic restrictions across the globe.

Detection Methods and Positivity Rates

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The study employed early-stage PCR tests and IgM Elisa tests for detection. The results indicated positivity rates of 3% and 16% respectively. AIIMS Delhi is part of an international consortium monitoring the spread of this illness. While the disease is typically mild, severe cases of pneumonia caused by this bacterium can occur, prompting the need for vigilant monitoring.

The Global Scenario

Recent weeks have seen a rise in pneumonia cases among children in countries such as China, Denmark, France, and the Netherlands, causing concern among the public. Health experts attribute these spikes to a combination of normal seasonal surges and the easing of COVID-19 lockdowns. The surge in respiratory illnesses is largely due to the relaxation of COVID-19 measures and the circulation of known pathogens such as influenza, mycoplasma pneumoniae, respiratory syncytial virus, and SARS-CoV-2. Experts emphasize that there is no evidence of a new or novel pathogen causing these outbreaks.

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