IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


25th November, 2023 Health


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Picture Courtesy: TIMES NOW

Context: The World Health Organization has urged the Chinese government to provide a detailed report on the outbreak of an undiagnosed respiratory illness in northern China.


  • The World Health Organization (WHO) requested a detailed report from the Chinese government following reports of a widespread outbreak of an undiagnosed respiratory illness in Beijing and Liaoning in northern China.
  • Concerns were raised about China's past lack of transparency, with parents questioning whether authorities were covering up the epidemic, as reported by ProMED, a global surveillance system for infectious disease outbreaks.
  • Beijing Children’s Hospital reportedly experienced overcrowding, with children developing high fever and pulmonary modules. In Liaoning Province, sick children were seen receiving intravenous drips, and a staff member complained about long wait times at the emergency department.
    • Since mid-October, the region reported an increase in influenza-like illness compared to the same period in the last three years, according to the WHO. The exact start date of the outbreak was unclear, but ProMed noted the unusually rapid spread among children.
  • The WHO recommended several measures for people in China, including keeping distance from ill individuals, staying home when ill, getting tested and seeking medical care as needed, wearing masks as appropriate, ensuring good ventilation, and practising regular handwashing.

About Mycoplasma pneumoniae

  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a type of bacteria that can cause respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and pharyngitis.
  • These infections are sometimes called "atypical" or "walking" pneumonia because they tend to be milder than other types of pneumonia and may not require hospitalization. However, some people may develop severe or complicated cases that need medical attention.
  • The symptoms of Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection may vary depending on the part of the respiratory system that is affected. Some common symptoms include Fever, Cough, Sore throat, Headache, Fatigue, and Muscle aches.
  • Some people may also have chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, or ear pain. The symptoms usually appear 2 to 3 weeks after exposure to the bacteria and may last for several weeks.

How is Mycoplasma pneumoniae spread?

  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets that are released when someone coughs or sneezes.
  • The bacteria can also be found in the nose or throat of some people who do not have any symptoms.
  • People who are infected can spread the bacteria for up to 4 weeks, even after they feel better.
  • The risk of getting Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection is higher for people who live or work in crowded settings, such as schools, dormitories, military barracks, or nursing homes.
  • People who have weakened immune systems, chronic lung diseases, or other health conditions may also be more susceptible to complications from the infection.

How is Mycoplasma pneumoniae diagnosed and treated?

  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection can be diagnosed by a healthcare provider based on the symptoms, medical history, and physical examination. Sometimes, laboratory tests may be done to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other causes of respiratory illness. These tests may include:
    • Blood tests to check for antibodies or genetic material of the bacteria.
    • Sputum tests to culture or detect the bacteria in the mucus from the lungs.
    • Chest X-rays to look for signs of pneumonia.
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection is usually treated with antibiotics that are effective against this type of bacteria, such as macrolides, tetracyclines, or fluoroquinolones. The duration of treatment may vary depending on the severity of the infection and the response to the medication.
  • In addition to antibiotics, some people may need supportive care to relieve their symptoms and prevent complications. This may include:
    • Resting and drinking plenty of fluids.
    • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers or fever reducers as needed.
    • Use a humidifier or saline nasal spray to moisten the airways.
    • Avoiding smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.

How can Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection be prevented?

  • There is no vaccine or specific prophylaxis for Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection. However, some general measures can help reduce the risk of getting or spreading the infection, such as:
    • Washing Hands frequently with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
    • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing.
    • Disposing of used tissues in a trash can and washing hands afterwards.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick or have respiratory symptoms.
    • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects.


  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a common cause of respiratory infections, presenting with symptoms such as cough, fever, and fatigue. Diagnosis involves clinical assessment and laboratory tests, with treatment typically consisting of antibiotics. While the infection is generally mild, it can lead to complications, emphasizing the importance of prompt medical attention. Practising good hygiene remains crucial in preventing the spread of Mycoplasma pneumoniae.


Q. Amid a global pandemic, a public health agency implemented various measures to control the spread of the infectious disease. Which intervention is most likely to contribute significantly to pandemic control?

1. Mass vaccination campaigns

2. Closing international borders

3. Enforcing strict quarantine measures

4. Promoting public awareness through education

How many of the above codes are correct?

A) Only one

B) Only two

C) Only three

D) All four

Answer: D


Mass vaccination campaigns: This option involves vaccinating a large proportion of the population to achieve herd immunity. While vaccination is a crucial tool in controlling the spread of infectious diseases, its effectiveness can depend on factors such as the vaccine's efficacy, coverage rate, and the nature of the virus. Mass vaccination campaigns can be particularly impactful in preventing severe cases and reducing overall transmission.

Closing international borders: Closing international borders can help limit the introduction of new cases from affected regions. However, it may not be a standalone solution as the virus could already be present within the country. The effectiveness of border closures depends on the stage of the pandemic, the ease of transmission, and the global interconnectedness of economies.

Enforcing strict quarantine measures: Quarantine measures involve isolating individuals who are infected or suspected of being infected to prevent further transmission. This can be effective in controlling the spread of the virus, especially when combined with contact tracing. However, the success of quarantine measures depends on widespread compliance, efficient testing, and the ability to provide support to those affected.

Promoting public awareness through education: Public awareness and education play a crucial role in encouraging individuals to adopt preventive measures, follow public health guidelines, and reduce risky behaviours. Informed communities are more likely to comply with recommended interventions such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and hygiene practices. Education can empower individuals to make informed decisions that contribute to pandemic control.