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Rare 'Chinese pneumonia' detected in Kolkata: 10-year-old girl diagnosed with mycoplasma pneumoniae

Upon thorough examination, doctors identified mycoplasma pneumoniae as the underlying cause of her illness. This strain earned the moniker 'Chinese pneumonia' following a significant outbreak of the respiratory disease caused by mycoplasma pneumoniae in China in November of the previous year.

Rare 'Chinese pneumonia' detected in Kolkata: 10-year-old girl diagnosed with mycoplasma pneumoniae AJR
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First Published Jan 3, 2024, 2:49 PM IST

In a concerning development, a 10-year-old girl from Bansdroni in south Kolkata has been diagnosed with a rare strain of 'Chinese pneumonia'—mycoplasma pneumoniae—at the Institute of Child Health in Kolkata. The child was admitted to the Park Circus hospital on December 25 due to mild respiratory distress, fever, and cough.

Upon thorough examination, doctors identified mycoplasma pneumoniae as the underlying cause of her illness. This strain earned the moniker 'Chinese pneumonia' following a significant outbreak of the respiratory disease caused by mycoplasma pneumoniae in China in November of the previous year.

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Notably, doctors at AIIMS-Delhi recently encountered this infection in seven patients, primarily children, just a few weeks ago. Fortunately, the child admitted to the Kolkata hospital is exhibiting positive progress in response to the ongoing treatment.

This unusual strain of pneumonia has triggered respiratory infections in multiple countries, resulting in several fatalities. Elderly individuals with compromised respiratory systems are particularly vulnerable to this condition, which has surfaced in China and the United States.

Professor Jaydeb Ray, head of paediatric medicine at ICH-Kolkata, highlighted, "Mycoplasma pneumoniae primarily affects the respiratory lining but can also harm other organs, leading to severe illness. The infection responds well to antibiotics, and there's no cause for alarm. The patient is responding positively to medications and hasn't required intensive support thus far."

Dr. Mihir Sarkar, a paediatrics professor at Medical College & Hospital, noted that mycoplasma pneumoniae constitutes around 5% to 10% of pneumonia cases in developed nations. He emphasized, "It primarily affects children over the age of five. In resource-constrained settings like India, these bacteria aren't frequently isolated. Transmission occurs through respiratory droplets, necessitating precautions like masks and hand hygiene."

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In the case of the 10-year-old, doctors observed signs of pneumonia in her lungs on chest X-rays and detected mycoplasma pneumoniae through subsequent lab tests. A senior health official urged parents to remain vigilant due to the infection's respiratory transmission, advising prompt consultation with doctors upon observing any respiratory infection symptoms.

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