DOH allays fears over ‘walking pneumonia’

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
DOH allays fears over �walking pneumonia�
Children receive a drip on the stairs at a children hospital in Beijing on November 23, 2023. The World Health Organization has asked on November 23, 2023, China for more data on a respiratory illness spreading in the north of the country, urging people to take steps to reduce the risk of infection. China has reported an increase in "influenza-like illness" since mid-October when compared to the same period in the previous three years, the WHO said.
AFP / Jade Gao

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has allayed growing fears over Mycoplasma pneumoniae, also known as “walking pneumonia.”

According to the DOH, walking pneumonia is curable and the infection can be prevented by simply observing minimum public health protocol.

“Filipino doctors and medical personnel in our hospital can treat M. pneumoniae and have the medicines for it,” the DOH said in a statement.

Four cases of walking pneumonia have been recorded in the country from January to November and all these patients have recovered from the infection, the agency said.

The four cases of walking pneumonia, DOH said, were not new and had been detected among those who got infected with influenza-like illness (ILI). Laboratory tests can confirm the cause of infection.

“Only 0.08 percent of the ILI cases from January to November 25 were due to M. pneumoniae. More than half of the confirmed ILI cases were due to other well-known and commonly detected pathogens,” the DOH said.

DOH pointed out that Mycoplasma is not unusual, but a common pathogen.

“It is one of the influenza-like illnesses, which presents as fever, sore throat, and cough,” the agency said.

DOH said all ages can be affected by walking pneumonia.  Those with weak immune system and living in close settings are at higher risk for more severe infection.

Although Mycoplasma pneumoniae causes different infection, including cough and pneumonia, the DOH reassured the public that respiratory pathogens can be blocked through handwashing, masking, adequate ventilation and vaccination.

Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista on Thursday advised travelers to wear face masks as protection amid reports of “walking pneumonia.”

Bautista, during his visit to the Philippine Coast Guard headquarters, said people traveling via sea, land and air should take necessary precaution and protect themselves from being infected with the atypical bacterial pneumonia called Mycoplasma pneumonia.

“Our passengers should exercise caution because there are already existing cases (of walking pneumonia). It is good to have our (face) masks, although the Department of Health has not issued any directive. But for the security and safety of our passengers, we would encourage them that they would also protect themselves,” he added.

But when asked if he would impose a “no face mask, no ride policy” inside public transportation, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) chief said that at the moment, he does not see the need to implement such a policy.

Besides, such a directive should come from the DOH and not the DOTr, he added.

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