*Ohio has reported 142 cases in one county alone. Massachusetts hasn’t quantified them officially, but one doctor reported it as “a whole lot” of cases.
Experts say a mixture of several seasonal bacterial and viral bugs are hitting at once, putting pressure on hospitals.
A mystery outbreak of pneumonia has hit several parts of China, and now Ohio is the first American location to report an outbreak of the illness, with an ‘extremely high’ number of children being hospitalized.
The strain of pneumonia, now dubbed ‘white lung syndrome,’ has spawned 142 pediatric cases in Warren County since August.
Warren County Health Department said that not only is the number of cases above average, but it also meets the Ohio Department of Health’s definition of an outbreak.
Meanwhile, in western Massachusetts, physicians are seeing ‘a whole lot’ of walking pneumonia, a milder form of the lung condition, which is caused by a mixture of bacterial and viral infections.
Neither outbreak is being caused by a novel pathogen and not all of the pneumonia cases are being caused by the same infection. Experts say a mixture of several seasonal bacterial and viral bugs are hitting at once, putting pressure on hospitals.
SIDE NOTE: A recent ruling by a New York state appeals court effectively upheld the right of state officials to arbitrarily seize and detain pretty much any person they deem necessary.
And, of course, it’s in the name of public safety.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that nationally, cases are not out of the ordinary, but the spread of cases has raised fears that an outbreak can overwhelm American hospitals.
Dr Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, said: ‘I would caution against extrapolating one Ohio county to a country of 330million people.’
But he would not be entirely surprised if ‘some places in the US are above baseline’ this year, as it appears several bacterial and viral infections are rebounding post-Covid.
Officials in Ohio say that an investigation is ‘ongoing,’ but the illness does not look like a new disease, but rather several common infections hitting all at once.
Does anyone else find this suspicious? — TPR
According to the news outlet, so far, patients have tested positive for mycoplasma pneumonia, a bacterial lung infection that is mostly resistant to antibiotics, strep, and normally benign infection, adenovirus.
The ages of the patients range from 8 to 3, and there are several theories as to why children are more susceptible to the illness. Some suggest it is caused by lockdowns that have weakened the immune system or mask-wearing and school closures leaving children vulnerable during seasonal illnesses.
It is reported that bacterial respiratory infections usually flare up every few years, normally as people recover from waves of flu or other viral illnesses.
The Warren County Health District officials said that they believe the pneumonia cases are a large uptick of cases normally seen at one time rather than a new respiratory disease.
Officials also want to remind the public to take necessary precautions to protect their health, as many of us will be gathering with friends and family during the holiday season.
Doctors say the most common symptoms are fever, cough, and fatigue. Hand washing, covering your mouth when you cough, and staying up-to-date on vaccines will help decrease your chance of illness.
According to the news report, the county was first alerted to the increase in illnesses after schools were recording more children off sick than normal.
Ohio is not the only area outside of China to report an outbreak. The Netherlands and Denmark are also reported to have mysterious spikes in ‘walking pneumonia’ cases, most common in younger children.
It is unclear if any deaths have resulted from the illness and officials have not responded to requests for more information.
In Massachusetts, doctors say the main issue is RSV, a respiratory virus that kills more than 10,000 Americans each year, mostly young children and the elderly.
Dr Adalja believes the pneumonia outbreaks cropping up around the world could be due to the ‘cyclical’ nature of mycoplasma.
Mycoplasma goes through epidemic cycles every few years and that may be what’s occurring globally at the moment.’
He said China may be getting hit by a double-whammy of viral and bacterial infections. China is entering its first winter without pandemic restrictions and is reporting surges in Covid, flu, and RSV as well as mycoplasma.
The US, Canada and Europe — where Covid restrictions were lifted earlier — were hit by massive upswings in those viruses last year.
‘So what’s happening in China makes sense’, Dr Adalja said, adding: ‘Last year we were dominated by so much Covid, flu and RSV when we opened up.’
He said he thinks this year’s winter outbreak will be ‘less severe’ that last year’s, when thousands of children were hospitalized with RSV and flu.
If this is true, why didn’t we hear more about it last year? — TPR
But Dr Adalja admitted that lockdowns have contributed to the emerging global phenomenon.
“When children are born they haven’t experienced any infectious diseases so more of them you have in population so lower threshold for outbreak to start.
“That group of children born provide new people for illnesses. The pandemic allowed the number of these susceptible people to build up over the years.”
Mycoplasma pneumonia normally causes a mild flu-like illness, sometimes called ‘walking pneumonia’. Cases are most common in younger children.
Some antibiotics, such as penicillin, have no effect.
Strep also normally causes a mild illness and tends to leave patients with sore throats. It’s more common among those aged five to 15 years old.
And adenovirus, which has also been detected in patients in Ohio, causes symptoms similar to the common cold.
Dr Scott Roberts, an infectious diseases expert at Yale School of Medicine, Connecticut, said the uptick in cases was likely still being driven by weakened immunity in children.
“This is probably a recurrence of known pathogens that are hitting us a bit harder because of low immunity to them.”
He suggested children’s immune systems could still be suffering from the effects of Covid restrictions which blocked their exposure to ‘good germs’ for building immunity. He also pointed out that immunity wanes over time.
It comes after the Netherlands and Denmark also said they were recording mysterious spikes in pneumonia cases, many of which are being attributed in part to mycoplasma.
China has been recording a surge in childhood cases of pneumonia since May which only came to light LAST MONTH.
Naw, there’s nothing suspicious about this new outbreak, is there? — TPR