When Astrid Carpentier took her daughter Jorja to Queensland Children’s Hospital (QCH), the emergency department was “full of kids” with “the same cough” as her sick child.
Health officials have warned about mycoplasma pneumonia — the illness that put three-year-old Jorja in hospital for days — as the state responds to a spike in cases.
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Carpentier told 7NEWS Jorja first became sick with a fever and coughing on January 20.
She improved with Panadol and the fever went away days later, but the cough lingered, the Brisbane mum said.
On January 29, the little girl “was starting to get out of breath”.
“Her cough started to get really bad,” said Carpentier.
“There’s something going on, or she’s caught another virus.”
Brisbane mum Astrid Carpentier’s daughter Jorja was hospitalised with mycoplasma pneumonia. Credit: Supplied
A doctor prescribed Jorja with antibiotics, but told Carpentier to take her to hospital if she didn’t improve.
“It was full of kids with a cough — the same cough that she had,” Carpentier said of her time in the QCH emergency department.
Jorja was found to be suffering from low oxygen levels and an X-ray found patches on her lungs, Carpentier said, leading to a diagnosis of a “severe case” of mycoplasma pneumonia.
She has since been released from hospital and is on the road to recovery.
Queensland Health reported there were 256 cases of mycoplasma pneumonia last year, with 229 cases already recorded in the state this year.
The spike in cases began late last year, with the health department warning of an “unexpected increase in respiratory infections across Queensland, including mycoplasma” on December 21.
Maria Boulton, a GP and president of the Australian Medical Association Queensland, said mycoplasma bacteria can also cause other respiratory tract infections, such as bronchiolitis.
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“Of course, whenever you mention pneumonia, it can be quite serious,” she told 7NEWS.
“There are certain individuals at risk of more severe disease. They are kids under the age of five, people over the age of 55, people with chronic conditions such as lung conditions, but also people who are immunosuppressed.”
She said the spike began at the same time as increases in COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), making it difficult to diagnose.
“It’s quite a challenge to tell from just looking at a patient what they actually have,” Boulton said.
“They present quite similarly. Myoplasma may be very similar to COVID, or other viruses such as RSV.
“Unless you do a test, it’s really hard to tell them apart.”
Queensland’s spike in mycoplasma pneumonia cases reflects the recent experiences of China and places in Europe, Boulton said.
She said parents who see their children having trouble breathing, keep down fluids or being “floppy”, should seek medical assistance.
“It is contagious, it’s quite easily spread. That’s why we ask people if they’re sick, they stay home,” she said.