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Bacterial Cases at AIIMS Not Linked To China's Pneumonia Surge: Health Ministry

Seven bacterial cases detected at AIIMS Delhi are not linked to the recent surge in Pneumonia cases in China.

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Seven bacterial cases detected at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi are not linked to the recent surge in pneumonia cases in China, the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare clarified through a press release on Thursday, 7 December.

A statement released by the ministry said:

“The seven cases have been detected as a part of an ongoing study at AIIMS Delhi in the six month period (April to September 2023) and is no cause for worry."

It went on to add, "Since January 2023 till date, NO Mycoplasma pneumonia was detected in the 611 samples tested at the Department of Microbiology, AIIMS Delhi as a part ICMR's multiple respiratory pathogen surveillance, which included mainly severe acute respiratory illness (SARI, which comprised about 95% of these cases) by real-time PCR.”

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Some context: A Lancet Microbe report on Wednesday highlighted that seven cases of Mycoplasma pneumoniae were detected in AIIMS-Delhi between April-September 2023. 

However, the ministry has now issued a statement saying that while mycoplasma pneumonia is the “commonest bacterial cause of community acquired pneumonia,” no surge or cases have been identified anywhere in India.

What’s happening in China? China reported a surge in the “incidence of respiratory diseases” in early November. Cases of clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia emerged in children.

But Chinese health authorities told the World Health Organization on 24 November that no unusual or novel pathogen had been detected, and there was no unusual disease linked to the surge in pneumonia cases.

The WHO also said that the cases were driven by Mycoplasma Pneumoniae, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, adenovirus, and influenza, which “usually thrive in this season.”

What else? The ministry has said, “The Union Health Ministry is in touch with state health authorities and is keeping a close watch on the situation on an everyday basis.”

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