The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said that a surge in respiratory illnesses in China has been caused by at least seven types of pathogens, and small children, elderly people and immunocompromised people should temporarily avoid unnecessary visits to China.
The recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses in China is mainly in the north and among children, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said on Monday.
Data released by the Chinese National Health Commission on Sunday showed that among children aged one to four, the main pathogens were influenza viruses and rhinoviruses, while among children aged five to 14, the main pathogens were flu viruses, Mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria and adenoviruses, Lo said.
Photo: Lin Hui-chin, Taipei Times
It also showed that among people aged 15 to 59, the main pathogens were flu viruses, rhinoviruses and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), while among people aged 60 or older, the main pathogens were flu viruses, human metapneumoviruses and coronaviruses, he said.
“As temperatures continue to drop, respiratory illnesses in China are expected to continue to increase. The CDC will closely monitor the surge and data released by China to draft disease prevention measures for the Lunar New Year holiday,” Lo said.
As the surge has put a strain on healthcare services in China and making an outpatient appointments could be more difficult, the CDC recommends that young children, elderly people and those with compromised immune systems avoid unnecessary travel to China, Lo said.
If they must visit China, the CDC suggests that they get flu and COVID-19 vaccines before traveling, maintain proper hygiene, wear a mask and wash their hands frequently, he added.
Asked if the surge in China has affected Taiwan, Lo said the weekly reported numbers for flu-like illnesses in Taiwan have dropped for seven consecutive weeks.
Of the identified respiratory viruses in Taiwan in the past four weeks, the most common were flu viruses (32 percent), followed by adenoviruses (26 percent) and parainfluenza viruses (14 percent), he said.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae, which people are worried about, is not a virus, and data from a medical center shows that it accounted for less than 1 percent of the respiratory illnesses identified at hospital, he said.
However, Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection usually causes milder symptoms than the flu, so people might visit clinics for treatment, he said, adding that, in general, an upsurge in respiratory illnesses has not been observed in Taiwan.
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