Calm urged as pneumonia cases in children increase-Xinhua

Calm urged as pneumonia cases in children increase

Source: China Daily

Editor: huaxia

2023-10-24 13:39:42

Doctor Zhou Huixia (right) performs surgery with her colleagues at the Seventh Medical Center of the Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing. [Photo/China Daily]

Hospitals in parts of China are seeing a surge in infections of mycoplasma pneumoniae — a pathogen that commonly causes respiratory illnesses among young children.

Experts have said that the outbreak will likely remain at a peak for another month and suggested families not panic but take necessary precautions such as wearing masks and seeking treatment promptly.

The symptoms of the disease usually include a sore throat, fatigue, fever and a lingering cough that can last for months, and the infection is most commonly treated with antibiotics.

Zhou Huixia, director of the children's medical center at the Seventh Medical Center of the Chinese PLA General Hospital, said during an interview with China Daily that the number of mycoplasma pneumoniae infections resulting in hospital visits began rising in May and has increased rapidly since August.

"The wave has appeared particularly ferocious since the National Day holiday in early October," she said. "Compared to previous years, we found more patients with mixed infections, drug resistance and lobar pneumonia.

"This wave is intense, and we are expecting to experience the peak of the outbreak throughout the next month," she added.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections circulate sporadically throughout the year, with regional epidemics recurring every three to seven years, and each epidemic lasting for one to two years. Infection clusters often occur in schools, nursery care centers or summer camps, according to experts.

Zhou said the domestic spread of the disease has been rising since 2015 and reached a crest in 2019. Due to virus control measures rolled out during the COVID-19 pandemic, infection numbers declined significantly in subsequent years until the latest outbreak emerged.

"It is the first wave of mycoplasma pneumoniae infections since most COVID-19 containment measures were lifted at the beginning of this year," she said.

During the autumn and winter seasons, children are also at a higher risk of contracting other infectious diseases such as hand-foot-and-mouth disease, influenza, mumps, chickenpox and rubella.

"Given the fast spread of mycoplasmal pneumonia cases at present, the circulation of other respiratory infectious diseases in the coming months is also expected to be serious," she said. "So it is important to spread awareness about these diseases and take precautions."

Hua Shaodong, a pediatrician at the medical center, said that around three-quarters of patients in his department these days have been diagnosed with mycoplasma pneumoniae infections.

"There is a steady number of patients developing severe cases, but there are very few critical cases, and there are no related deaths so far," he said, adding that risk factors for serious infections include a high fever lasting over 72 hours and underlying conditions such as asthma or other immunodeficiency diseases.

"The average days in hospital for hospitalized patients is around seven to 14 days," he added.

To cope with the surge in patients, Hua said the center has prepared relevant drugs and medical equipment, as well as increased hospital beds to be able to receive as many patients in need as possible.

Hua added it is important to improve ventilation in indoor spaces and keep children's hands clean.

"I think for parents, the key is not to panic, avoid piling additional mental pressure on their kids and follow doctors' prescriptions," he said.