(WXYZ) — In today’s Health Alert, a county in Ohio is experiencing outbreaks of pneumonia cases in children. These illnesses have been linked to Mycoplasma, a bacteria that has increased cases in countries like China, France, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a bacteria that can damage the parts of the body that are involved in breathing - including the throat, lungs, and windpipe. It’s often called “walking” pneumonia because its symptoms can be milder than typical pneumonia and many people can carry on with daily activities. However, sometimes Mycoplasma pneumoniae can also cause serious lung infections.
Now, last week the Warren County Health District in Ohio issued a media advisory regarding an extremely high number of pediatric pneumonia cases. Since the start of August, there have been 142 cases, surpassing the county's usual average. These cases primarily affected children around the age of 8. Common symptoms reported include fever, fatigue, and cough. The good news is that the Health District did not find any new or novel respiratory illness. Instead, the pathogens that were found during testing included Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Adenovirus.
Most people get better from Mycoplasma pneumoniae without needing antibiotics. However, doctors will usually prescribe antibiotics if someone develops pneumonia - a lung infection. Common symptoms of pneumonia include what I mentioned earlier - fever, fatigue, and cough - and also shortness of breath.
As for spread, there hasn't been a significant increase in Mycoplasma infections in other parts of the United States. Having said that, we usually see pneumonia outbreaks every one to three years. And since we haven’t had a major outbreak since before the pandemic, it would not be surprising if cases rise this year.
Now anyone can get Mycoplasma infections, but people most at risk are those who live or work in crowded settings like schools. And that’s why these infections are most common in young adults and school-aged children. However, it’s important for everyone to take necessary precautions to protect their health. Especially right now, with the holiday season upon us, and many are out enjoying the festivities, buying gifts, or gathering with friends and family. Crowded settings give viruses plenty of opportunity to spread. And that's why it's important to take precautions that include washing your hands often, covering your cough with the crook of your elbow, and staying up to date on vaccines.