Bacterial respiratory illness in China highly contagious, less severe than COVID-19 — Tayag
MANILA, Philippines — The cases of respiratory illness spreading in parts of China is highly contagious and but is less severe than COVID-19, Undersecretary Eric Tayag of the Department of Health (DOH) said on Thursday.
Tayag, however, pointed out that the bacterial infection is much milder than COVID-19
“It is, except that it has the label of ‘walking pneumonia’ because you feel alright, except for COVID it can easily progress to something terrible,” Tayag said over CNN Philippines when asked if the mycoplasma pneumonia behaves like COVID-19.
Like certain strains of COVID, asymptomatic patients could also spread mycoplasma pneumonia, according to Tayag, adding that the bacteria is even “notorious” for lingering.
“It is so contagious that even before symptoms appear like a cough, one who is infected can already transmit it to another person via close contact,” Tayag said.
“Mycoplasma is notorious for reinfection. In fact, after treatment, it can linger for weeks, and that means that a patient infected with this bacteria will complain of a cough that has been with them for even four or more weeks,” he added.
Hence, mycoplasma pneumonia is also prevalent in closed settings like schools, prisons, or households, according to Tayag.
Tayag said that the said pneumonia is treatable by antibiotics, but bacterial resistance can also be a concern.
“It is a big concern if younger children are affected, and we are now checking the resistance rate on this antibiotic against mycoplasma because it can be a concern,” Tayag said.
China’s National Health Commission said the recent clusters of respiratory infections in their country are caused by bacteria like mycoplasma pneumonia as well as other common viruses and not due to new viruses.
Health Secretary Ted Herbosa said there is no need to panic as the virus and bacteria spreading in China are not novel infections, and that the government is closely monitoring the situation.
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