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    Mycoplasma outbreak in Russia. What is known, what are the symptoms

    MOSCOW, December 6, Vladislav Strekopytov. Rospotrebnadzor reported several cases of mycoplasma pneumonia. The primary symptoms are similar to ARVI; an accurate diagnosis can only be made in the laboratory. Read about what pathogen causes this disease, how dangerous it is and how to recognize it in time.

    Outbreak of a “mysterious” infection in China

    At a press conference on November 13, China's National Health Commission reported an increase in the incidence of respiratory diseases, mainly among children. By November 21, children's hospitals in Beijing, Liaoning and several other cities were overwhelmed with patients, including those with pneumonia. Schools have stopped classes.

    Almost immediately, panicky publications about a new unknown infection from China appeared in the world media. WHO has formally requested epidemiological and clinical information and laboratory results from Beijing for all reported cases of “unexplained pneumonia.” It turned out that hospitalization is mainly associated with mycoplasma infection caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and to a lesser extent with influenza viruses, RSV and SARS-CoV-2.

    Interestingly, a few months earlier, The Lancet Microbe published an article entitled “Has Mycoplasma Pneumonia Disappeared Forever?” The authors of this retrospective study are a distinguished international group of scientists who participated in the first surveillance study of Mycoplasma pneumoniae. They argued that unprecedented safety measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic had virtually eliminated the infection. As it turned out, this is not so.

    Nothing unusual

    Representatives of the genus Mycoplasma are low-organized single-celled organisms that differ from other bacteria in the absence of a cell wall. They contain approximately four times less genetic information than Escherichia coli.

    Despite the name (from the Greek “mykos” – mushroom and “plasma” – formation), mycoplasma has nothing to do with fungal infections. Several species are pathogenic to humans, in particular Mycoplasma pneumoniae.

    The behavior of the bacterium in the host is described. Having attached itself to the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract, mycoplasma feeds, grows and multiplies, causing pharyngitis, bronchitis and pneumonia. If a person is in good health, bacteria can remain dormant for a long time, but once the immune system weakens, the microbes begin to multiply rapidly.
    In a report prepared for the WHO, Chinese health officials indicatedthat there is nothing special about the current outbreak – no new pathogens, no unusual clinical manifestations. The incidence of influenza, adenovirus, RSV and mycoplasma pneumonia always increases with the arrival of cold weather. It’s just that now it happened a little earlier, perhaps due to the lifting of anti-Covid restrictions.
    WHO experts concluded that there is no risk of a pandemic.

    Symptoms and treatment

    Mycoplasma infection is transmitted by airborne droplets from coughing, sneezing and simply close contact, including with asymptomatic carriers. But it is less contagious than the flu or COVID-19. The incidence is cyclical, with rises occurring every three to seven years.

    “Everything is very different: for some it is a mild upper respiratory tract disease, for others it is severe pneumonia. The main symptoms are fever, cough, heaviness when breathing,” said Sergei Voznesensky, associate professor of the department of infectious diseases at the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia (RUDN).

    Specific scientists note inflammation of the mucous membranes and the formation of compactions in the lungs – pulmonary nodules, detected by radiography and ultrasound.
    “Mycoplasmas do not live in the lung tissue, but in the interlayers, in the connective tissue. There is inflammation there, scars form. They are quite heavy, preventing the lung from contracting and breathing,” a specialist in especially dangerous diseases explained on radio Sputnik Infections, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Immunologist Vladislav Zhemchugov.

    At this time, there are no known severe cases requiring mechanical ventilation. Mycoplasma pneumonia is treatable, but you need to choose the right medicine. The fact is that most broad-spectrum antibiotics act on enzymes in the cell walls of bacteria, while mycoplasmas have a cytoplasmic membrane instead.
    Scientists clarify that the blood serum of most adults contains antibodies to Mycoplasma pneumoniae , so mainly children and people with weakened immune systems get sick.

    The situation is under control

    Over the past week, mycoplasma pneumonia in children has been recorded in Indonesia, Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Denmark. And in Russia.
    “Like abroad, there are no changes in the clinical picture of the disease, no more severe forms of infection,” the press service of Rospotrebnadzor emphasized.
    The situation is under control thanks to a multi-level epidemiological surveillance system, which allows quickly identify infected people. All cluster cases are being investigated. Comprehensive laboratory diagnostics of those infected and those in contact with them is also being carried out.
    “There are enough drugs, a wide range, so the infection is absolutely controllable,” Health Minister Murashko told reporters. And he added that the diagnosis, course of the disease, and clinical picture are completely clear.
    September 28, 08:00

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