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AIIMS Delhi Identifies Cases of ‘Walking Pneumonia’-Causing Bacterium; Ministry Dismisses Link to China’s Recent Outbreak

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi has identified seven cases of Mycoplasma pneumoniae, the bacterium associated with ‘Walking Pneumonia.’ The cases were detected between April and September this year and were reported in a study published in the Lancet Microbe journal. Notably, ‘Walking Pneumonia’ cases have been reported globally since October, including in China.

Contrary to concerns about a link to the recent surge in respiratory infections in children, especially in China, the Union Health Ministry clarified that these seven cases have no connection to the ongoing outbreaks. The ministry stated that the cases were part of an ongoing study at AIIMS Delhi, spanning April to September 2023, and reassured the public that there’s no cause for worry. The ministry emphasized that no Mycoplasma pneumonia was detected in the 611 samples tested at AIIMS Delhi from January 2023 to the present, and there has been no surge reported in any part of India.

AIIMS Delhi is part of a global consortium monitoring the spread of Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and the surveillance is conducted only at specific centers, including AIIMS Delhi. The study highlighted the re-emergence of Mycoplasma pneumoniae in Europe and Asia more than three years after the introduction of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

‘Walking Pneumonia’ is a milder form of bacterial infection that resembles a cold, allowing infected individuals to continue with daily activities. The infection is particularly risky for individuals aged 2 or younger, 65 or older, those with weakened immune systems, chronic respiratory conditions, or exposure to crowded places. Symptoms include sore throat, fatigue, chest pain, low-grade fever, chills, cough, sneezing, and headache.

Preventive measures recommended by health experts include proper respiratory hygiene, regular handwashing, wearing masks around sick individuals (especially for those with respiratory conditions), getting an annual flu shot, avoiding smoking and secondhand smoke, and timely medical intervention using antibiotics and over-the-counter medicines. The Union Health Ministry continues to collaborate with state health authorities, closely monitoring the situation and providing timely updates to the public.

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