Briefing Note: Mycoplasma pneumoniae Respiratory Infections - 20 December 2023

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On 22 November 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement on the increase in respiratory diseases in children in northern China (2). According to the statement, the country's respiratory disease surveillance system indicated an increase in outpatient consultations and pediatric hospital admissions for pneumonia due to Mycoplasma pneumoniae since May 2023 and for respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, and influenza since October 2023.

The duration of the infection varies from days to months. Secondary bacterial infection and other complications, such as central nervous system disease and Stevens-Johnson syndrome, are rare; fatal cases are rare.

Worldwide, it occurs sporadically, endemic, and sometimes epidemic, affecting all ages and with variable attack rates. Epidemics occur most often in late summer and fall; the endemic disease does not follow a seasonal rhythm, but there may be variation from year to year and between different  geographical areas. M. pneumoniae causes frequent outbreaks in schools and at home.