The Union Health Ministry on Thursday dismissed media reports as ill-informed and misleading that said that AIIMS Delhi has detected seven bacterial cases linked to the recent surge in pneumonia cases in China.
“The news report is ill-informed and provides misleading information,” the ministry said in a statement.
It said that seven bacterial cases were detected at AIIMS Delhi between April and September but they have no link whatsoever to the recent surge in respiratory infections in children reported from some parts of the world, including China.
The seven cases were detected as part of an ongoing study at AIIMS Delhi during the six-month period (April to September) and there “is no cause for worry”.
“It is clarified that these seven cases have no link whatsoever to the recent surge in respiratory infections in children reported from some parts of the world, including China,” it said.
So far this year, Mycoplasma pneumonia has not been detected in any of the 611 samples tested at the Department of Microbiology, AIIMS Delhi as part of the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) multiple respiratory pathogen surveillance, which included mainly severe acute respiratory illness (SARI, which comprised about 95 per cent of these cases) by real-time PCR.
Mycoplasma pneumonia is the commonest bacterial cause of community-acquired pneumonia. It is the reason for nearly 15-30 per cent of all such infections.
“Such a surge has not been reported from any part of India. The Union health ministry is in touch with state health authorities and is keeping a close watch on the situation on an everyday basis,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, a global surveillance study published in The Lancet Microbe journal too said that the seven samples tested positive for infection caused by the mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria at AIIMS Delhi between April and September this year, while Singapore recorded the highest 172 cases in Asia.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae has been linked to the recent surge in respiratory ailments among children in China, it said but stopped short of connecting the cases with those reported from India and Singapore.
In the first global prospective surveillance study of M pneumoniae initiated in April 2022, data were obtained from 45 sites in 24 countries from the four UN regions: Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania.
Incidences of M pneumoniae as detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were significantly higher in Europe and Asia than in America and Oceania and higher than those observed in previous testing periods in the same UN regions since the start of the prospective surveillance, the study found.
Overall, M pneumoniae was detected by PCR in 1,067 of 1,49 980 (1.49 lakh) tests during the 6-month period from April to September this year.
The most frequent detections in Europe were from Denmark (436), Sweden (145), Switzerland (132), Wales (49), and Slovenia (41), and in Asia from Singapore (172).
From a total of 67 tests conducted at AIIMS Delhi as part of the study, seven samples tested positive. Of these samples that tested positive, one case was detected through PCR test while six cases were detected through IgM Elisa test.
“These global prospective surveillance data show the re-emergence of M. Pneumoniae in Europe and Asia more than three years after the introduction of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions,” the authors of the study noted.
“This delayed re-emergence is striking because it occurred long after non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) were discontinued, and because it is, to our knowledge, a phenomenon unique to this pathogen,” they said.