Doctors in certain parts of Ohio and Massachusetts are noting an increase in pediatric pneumonia cases, akin to the pandemic that is sweeping across portions of China and Europe.
Just 30 miles west of Cincinnati, in Warren County, there have been 142 child instances of the illness, known as “white lung syndrome,” since August. Local health officials characterized this number as “extremely high.”
The county health agency stated on Wednesday that “this is not only above the county average; it also meets the Ohio Department of Health definition of an outbreak.”
Walking pneumonia, a less serious form of lung disease that results from a combination of bacterial and viral infections, is a common condition that doctors are treating in the western Massachusetts region.
A novel pathogen is neither the cause of the epidemic nor the instances of pneumonia. Instead, various infections are the cause of various pneumonia episodes.
Experts claim that because several seasonal bacterial and viral diseases are occurring, hospitals are under stress at the same time.
There are concerns that the epidemic that has overrun hospitals in China may make its way to the US this winter.
Numerous European nations are facing comparable predicaments.
“Nothing is out of the ordinary” in the statistics, according to a source at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who stated that this is the case nationwide.
Infectious illness specialist Dr. Amesh Adalja of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland warned DailyMail.com not to extrapolate from one Ohio county to the 330 million-person nation.
However, he would not be shocked if some regions in the US are above baseline’ this year, given that several viral and bacterial illnesses are popping up after the COVID pandemic.
Currently, in Ohio, there is a “continuing investigation” in progress to determine what is causing the sickness wave.
About 200,000 people live in the county. Patients there have tested positive for strep, adenovirus, a typically benign respiratory illness, and mycoplasma pneumonia, a bacterial lung infection for which some medications are ineffective.
Patients range in age from three to eight years old on average.
One theory suggests that the lockdowns, mask-wearing, and school closures during the pandemic have decreased children’s immunity, making them more susceptible to seasonal illnesses.
Every five years, bacterial respiratory infections typically resurface as patients are recuperating from a viral sickness or flu wave.
Although the majority of infections are not severe, persons who have just recovered from a respiratory infection are more vulnerable.
In a release from the Warren County Health District, officials said:
“We do not think this is a novel or new respiratory disease, but rather a large uptick in the number of pneumonia cases normally seen at one time.”
“As we approach the holiday season, when many of us will be gathering together with family and friends, please remember to take necessary precautions to protect your health. Wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home when ill and stay up to date on vaccines.”
According to doctors, the majority of patients have exhaustion, coughing, and fever.
Officials have not responded to requests for more information, and it is unknown if the illness has resulted in any fatalities.
Physicians in Massachusetts believe that RSV, a respiratory virus that primarily affects the elderly and small children, is the leading cause of the state’s over 10,000 annual deaths.
‘This is the season for RSV, and we’re seeing a whole bunch of it,’ said Dr. John Kelley of Redwood Pediatrics in East Longmeadow, Western Mass News. Many children have upper respiratory viral infections, which can cause coughing, runny noses, fevers, and other symptoms. RSV is thought to be a potential cause of lower respiratory virus infections, which can then progress to the lungs.
According to him, RSV causes 80 percent of children who get walking pneumonia, with bacterial infections such as Mycoplasma pneumonia responsible for the remaining 20 percent of cases.
“Mycoplasma goes through epidemic cycles every few years and that may be what’s occurring globally at the moment.”
He claimed that a double whammy of bacterial and viral infections may be hitting China. 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” than last year’s, when thousands of children were hospitalized with RSV and flu.
However, 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 years.”
In Ohio, the county was first alerted to the spike after schools said they were recording more children out sick than normal.
The 142 cases were reported to the county from multiple school districts across their area. There are 12 school districts in Warren County, Ohio.
Speaking to local reporters, Warren County’s medical director, Dr. Clint Koenig, said:
“We have seen hospitalizations [for child pneumonia] tick up in the last couple of weeks so we do ask parents to be vigilant.
Our school districts have called in starting roughly in August, but really picking up in mid to late October.
We’ve also been noticing a lot of cases of kids being absent and the resulting diagnosis being pneumonia.”
A source at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said their data showed childhood pneumonia levels in other states were following ‘seasonal trends’.
“Nothing is flagging out of the ordinary, but we are continuing to monitor,” they said.
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 those of the common cold.
It was thought to be one of the viruses driving a spike in childhood hepatitis cases last year in children in the US.
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.
He stated, “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.
CDC director Dr. Mandy Cohen said while testifying in Congress today that the uptick in respiratory illnesses in China was not due to a novel pathogen.
Dr Cohen told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, ‘We do not believe this is a new or novel pathogen.
‘We believe this is all existing [pathogens] — meaning Covid, flu, RSV, mycoplasma. But they are seeing an upsurgence.’
The CDC has been under pressure to reveal everything it knows about the China pneumonia outbreak, with members of Congress sending a letter to the agency yesterday.
China has been recording a surge in childhood cases of pneumonia since May, which only came to light last month.
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