Researchers from the Capital Institute of Paediatrics in Beijing have determined that the pneumonia epidemic called Mycoplasma pneumonia has hit Beijing.  It seems to have begun last spring and has affected more than half of hospitalised kids since December 2015. In the study published in Feb. 24 in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, they predict that this will affect more children in 2016 and could last longer than expected.  According to Hongmei Sun, the Director of the Department of Bacteriology at the Capital Institute of Paediatrics, M. pneumonia cases increased from 30 percent in May 2015 to 57 percent in December of the same year.  The researchers say that this could even exacerbate because it could affect other parts of China and even other Asian countries.

After genotyping samples collected from patients from this recent epidemic and from previous ones, the clinicians found that a specific genotype called MLVA4572 seem to be drug-resistant.  Individuals in crowded areas like schools and hospitals have the highest risk of contracting the disease.

pneumonia epidemic

A very prominent pneumonia of the middle lobe of the right lung. Photo from Wikipedia/James Heilman, MD

M. pneumoniae usually cause sore throat, fever, fatigue, headache and coughs that persist and worsens for months. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention add that kids below the age of five do not exhibit fever but may experience diarrhoea and vomiting.

The researchers suggest that medical professionals should be alert for any  M. pneumonia outbreak. They also urge parents to cooperate with health professionals to participate in the diagnosis and treatment of the epidemic.

Treatments include administering antibiotics and drinking a lot of water. Patients would feel better a few days if they followed their doctors’ orders.

According to experts, mild infections go away on their own. Many may think that the drugs normally used for colds and flu could alleviate the problem but these do not work so clinicians advise patients to go to their physicians to choose the best course of action.