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Walking pneumonia: What is it and how can you protect yourself from it

By Melanie Uson Published Dec 01, 2023 3:39 pm

The Department of Health (DOH) is closely monitoring the growing cases of pneumonia in the country, particularly in response to the rise of "walking pneumonia" in China.

DOH undersecretary Eric Tayag said in his interview on Thursday, Nov. 30 that the flu-like bacteria spreading is called mycoplasma pneumoniae, which typically affects children. 

He explained that the term “walking pneumonia” was coined because those infected would still be able to perform their daily duties, such as going to school and work. It's not until they get an X-ray that they learn about the infection. 

“Makikita mo na maayos naman ang lagay pero kapag ine-Xray mo matatakot ka sa makikita mo sa X-ray kaya walking pneumonia. Hindi katulad ng ibang pneumonia naoospital agad,” Tayag explained.

He added that since it’s a bacteria, it should be treated with antibiotics. However, he pointed out problems on why it wouldn’t work 

“Ang concern ay dalawa: number one, wala tayong antibiotics para sa mga batang less than eight years old, bawal kasi sa kanila ‘yung gamot; number two, sa China, mataas ang drug-resistance, nasa 90%, so ibig sabihin hindi uubra ‘yung antibiotics,” he explained, leading to more patients being hospitalized. 

The Department of Health advisory regarding "walking pneumonia" on Nov. 29. 

Since its symptoms are similar to COVID-19 and influenza, he said that the only way of finding out is to undergo tests.  

Moreover, Tayag confirmed that there are cases of mycoplasma pneumoniae in the country, but the numbers are yet to be determined. The DOH is waiting for the report from Philippine General Hospital (PGH) on whether the pneumonia cases are due to mycoplasma pneumoniae.  

To help you familiarize yourself better with the disease, here are the symptoms to watch out for and how you can better protect yourself and your family from it: 


Apart from children, Cleveland Clinic noted that those who are most likely at risk are adults aged 65 and above as well as those who are immunocompromised, such as those suffering from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, among others. 

“Walking pneumonia” symptoms include: 

  • Cough of more than two weeks 
  • Sneezing 
  • Headache 
  • Fever 
  • Sore throat 
  • Chest pain 

Although its symptoms appear mild compared to “regular” pneumonia, this illness is deemed contagious.  

Preventive measures 

To protect yourself, Tayag stressed that it is important to mask up when going outdoors, do regular handwashing, and get flu shots.  

If symptoms persist, it would be better to isolate. Remotely consult your local health center to get tested for mycoplasma pneumoniae or COVID-19.

As of Nov. 11, DOH has logged 182,721 flu-like illnesses in the country. With this, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa has ordered health centers and regional offices to boost the vaccination drive against pneumonia and influenza.