The world has recently witnessed the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought about significant disruptions to our daily lives and posed a grave threat to global health. As we gradually emerge from its grip, it is crucial for us to remain vigilant and prepared for potential future outbreaks. And during this holiday season where overcrowded places is a normal thing to witness, one particular pathogen deserving of attention is the mycoplasma pneumoniae or the ‘walking pneumonia’.

MycoPlasma Pneumonia: The Bacteria Under Surveillance

mycoplasma pneumoniae

Recently, the Department of Health has alerted the public of a new type of illness-causing bacteria known as mycoplasma pneumoniae, following the rise of related cases in the country.

Commonly known as walking pneumonia (as infected people can still carry on with their usual, daily lives while hosting the bacteria in their body), mycoplasma pneumoniae is a bacterium that can cause respiratory infections in humans. Unlike other bacteria, Mycoplasma lacks a cell wall, making it unique and challenging to treat. This bacterium is a leading cause of community-acquired pneumonia, especially in children and young adults.

The transmission of Mycoplasma occurs through respiratory droplets, making it highly contagious. It can spread easily in crowded places, such as schools, dormitories, or workplaces. Additionally, close and prolonged contact with an infected person increases the chances of contracting the bacterium.

In typical cases of pneumonia, doctors immediately advises their patients to take antibiotics once they detect an infection, however,DOH Undersecretary Eric Tayag in an interview states that this type of strain is found in China to be 95% 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,” Tayag further explains in an article at Philippine Star Global.

He further expresses that the bacteria is contagious even without visible symptoms.

Should We Be Alarmed?

Given the turmoil we experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s completely understandable if we grew a bit concerned with the pathogen looming around this holiday season. But Tayag assures the public that it is not fatal and those who are infected can still continue with their daily lives.

Instead of being alarmed, everyone should stay vigilant and arm themselves with the necessary gear and measures to avoid contacting the pathogen.

Knowing the Symptoms

a girl sneezing

The symptoms of Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection can vary from mild to severe and may resemble those of other respiratory infections. Common symptoms include persistent cough, which can be dry or produce phlegm, sore throat, fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. Some individuals may also experience chest pain, difficulty breathing, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

What sets Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection apart from other respiratory infections is the presence of extra-pulmonary symptoms. These can include ear infections, sinusitis, and, in rare cases, complications affecting other body parts like the skin, joints, or nervous system.

It is important to note that the symptoms of Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection can manifest differently in different individuals. In some cases, especially in children, the symptoms may be milder and resemble those of a common cold or flu. This can make it challenging to differentiate the infection from other respiratory illnesses without proper testing.

If you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, especially if they persist or worsen, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis. Early detection and treatment play a key role in managing the infection and preventing potential complications.

Safeguarding You and Your Loved Ones

mycoplasma pneumoniae

Ultimately, Tayag advises the public to wear face masks, especially in crowded places. People with fever, cough, or colds are also encourage to stay at home to recuperate. Here are some other ways on how you can protect you and your loved ones from the walking pneumonia.

Maintain Good Hygiene Practices

Regularly wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating or touching your face. If soap is unavailable, use hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol. Avoid close contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms of respiratory infections.

Practice Respiratory Etiquette

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets. Dispose of used tissues immediately in closed bins and wash your hands afterward.

Do not Reuse Facemask

In situations where maintaining physical distance from others may be challenging, such as crowded public places or enclosed spaces, wearing face masks can provide added protection by reducing the risk of inhaling infected particles.

However, it’s crucial to remember that reusing disposable facemask is safe, but not ideal. Reusing a mask increases the risk of contamination with pathogens, including mycoplasma pneumoniae. A used mask may contain infectious agents from a previous exposure, making it ineffective in preventing the spread of the bacteria. But if you have no choice but to use the same mask again, make sure to sanitize it properly.

Maintain Physical Distancing

Whenever possible, maintain a safe distance (at least 1 meter) from individuals who exhibit respiratory symptoms or appear unwell. This measure helps minimize the chances of exposure to mycoplasma pneumoniae and other infectious agents.

Keep Indoor Spaces Well-Ventilated

Ensuring adequate ventilation in indoor environments promotes air circulation and reduces the concentration of potentially harmful airborne pathogens, including mycoplasma pneumoniae. Open windows whenever feasible or make use of mechanical ventilation systems.

Stay informed

Stay updated on the latest information and guidelines provided by the DOH and local health authorities. This knowledge will enable you to make informed decisions and take necessary precautions to protect yourself and others.

Related Read: Immunity-Boosting Meals to Prepare Inside Your Condo

Embracing a Sickness-Free Holidays!

As we confront the challenges posed by emerging pathogens like mycoplasma pneumoniae, it is crucial to remain proactive in protecting ourselves from potential infections. By adopting preventive measures such as practicing good hygiene habits, observing proper respiratory etiquette, wearing face masks when necessary, maintaining physical distancing, and ensuring well-ventilated indoor spaces, we can significantly reduce our vulnerability to the walking pneumonia and other similar pathogens.

Let us not forget the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic; let us remain vigilant and committed to safeguarding our health collectively for a healthier and worry-free holiday celebration!