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DOH on alert vs pneumonia-causing pathogen

MANILA, Philippines, December 1 ------ The Department of Health (DOH) is on guard against a pathogen called mycoplasma pneumoniae following a rise in cases of pneumonia in the country. “Among the pathogens now being checked at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine is this mycoplasma pneumoniae,” DOH Undersecretary Eric Tayag said in a radio interview. He added, “Doctors don’t usually have this (type) of bacteria tested. Once they suspect of such, they immediately recommend (the patients) to take antibiotics.”

Tayag clarified though, that this type of bacteria is drug resistant as he noted that “in China, it is 95 percent drug resistant.” “This means that the antibiotics are not working; so many are hospitalized. We are having it checked now if that is also the case in the country… Another thing is that we don’t have such antibiotics for children less than eight years old. It is not recommended for them to take this medicine,” he added. Tayag, also DOH spokesperson, noted that this type of bacteria is contagious even if there are no symptoms yet. “However, it is not fatal for those infected with this kind of bacteria. It is called ‘walking pneumonia’ since those suffering from this illness can still continue with their everyday activities,” he explained.

He advised the public to wear masks or just stay at home if they have symptoms such as fever, cough and colds. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria can cause illness by damaging the lining of the respiratory system (throat, lungs, windpipe). It added that people could have the bacteria in their nose or throat at one time or another without being ill. From January to October this year, a total of 158,762 pneumonia cases were reported through the DOH’s Field Health Services Information System. This is 45.68 percent higher than the 108,982 cases reported in the same period in 2022.

The DOH said it is continuously working to further mitigate cases in the country through strengthened monitoring, implementing catch-up immunization and outbreak response immunization strategies, especially in areas with increasing incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases.



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