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AIIMS Delhi Records 7 Positive Cases of M Pneumoniae Infection Between April and September, Lancet Study Unveils

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Recent data from a global surveillance study, published in The Lancet Microbe journal, sheds light on a concerning surge in Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections. The study, initiated in April 2022, covered 45 sites in 24 countries across Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania, providing insights into the prevalence of M pneumoniae in different regions.

Between April and September of this year, seven cases of M pneumoniae infection were reported at AIIMS Delhi. Simultaneously, Singapore recorded the highest number of cases in Asia, underlining the resurgence of this respiratory pathogen.

In this groundbreaking global prospective surveillance study, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were employed to detect M pneumoniae. The findings revealed significantly higher incidences of the pathogen in Europe and Asia compared to the Americas and Oceania. Importantly, these rates surpassed those observed in previous testing periods within the same UN regions, indicating a delayed re-emergence of M. pneumoniae more than three years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

AIIMS Delhi’s participation in the study provided crucial local insights. Among the 67 tests conducted, seven samples tested positive for M pneumoniae. Notably, one case was identified through PCR testing, while six cases were detected using the IgM Elisa test.

The study’s authors highlighted the uniqueness of M pneumoniae’s delayed re-emergence. This phenomenon occurred long after the discontinuation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The resurgence of the pathogen in Europe and Asia raises questions about its dynamics and potential implications for public health.

The study delved into the historical context, noting a significant reduction in M pneumoniae cases following the implementation of NPIs in March 2020. However, an unprecedented decline in the second year, concurrent with the resurgence of other respiratory pathogens, signaled a complex interplay of factors. The third-year data showed a sustained low incidence but indicated a recent uptick, necessitating heightened vigilance.

As M pneumoniae re-emerges globally, the study underscores the need for ongoing monitoring to assess whether case numbers will escalate to epidemic levels. Comparisons to pre-pandemic (endemic) numbers suggest a potential return to baseline levels, but the possibility of a substantial wave of infections, as observed with other pathogens, remains uncertain.

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