a “record” epidemic of pneumonia this winter, due to an atypical bacteria

2024-02-24 07:29:00

Called _Mycoplasma pneumoniae, this bacteria which is transmitted by spit, can cause coughs, colds and even pneumonia. Details from Géraldine Zamansky, journalist for the health magazine on France 5.

franceinfo: Has this bacteria reached record levels in recent months?

Géraldine Zamansky : Exactly, in a few months, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, was detected six times more often than before 2020, according to the report published these days by Public Health France. And again, this is only the tip of the iceberg, since in general this bacteria contaminates us very discreetly.

Especially in children, it often causes a simple cold and no one diagnoses it. But it is easily transmitted by spit, and can also cause, as its name suggests, pneumonia and lung infections.

Is she really responsible for the worrying Chinese epidemic that affected Chinese children this fall?

The World Health Organization had called for vigilance. And the surveillance organized by our health authorities this winter gives us hope that the epidemic has finally reached its peak in early January.

On the front line, Professor Charles Cazanave, infectious disease specialist at Bordeaux University Hospital, described the symptoms to me. This “mycoplasma” first triggers a less brutal fever, more around 38°, than the main culprit of pneumonia, pneumococcus. But with a more present cough from the outset.

And above all, one in 4 times, there is damage to the skin, such as plaques on the body, or impressive shapes in the mouth and eyes for example.

**And any other strange symptoms?

**Yes, Professor Cazanave also wants to point out the very rare neurological signs, such as a change in behavior, especially in children. We must then react quickly. With suitable antibiotics. Moreover, the diagnosis of this bacteria is often made when the fever persists after a prescription for amoxicillin, the effective weapon against pneumococcus.

The problem is that the PCR diagnostic test, well known for Covid, is not yet reimbursed in the city. So it is mainly carried out in hospitals, for the most serious patients. The majority are adolescents or young adults.

After the acute period, they often complain of a persistent cough for one to two months. This is the consequence of the particular inflammation caused by this mycoplasma. There, Professor Cazanave insists on the importance of a control radio to check that there is nothing abnormal, and he wants to be reassuring: in general, it ends up stopping.

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