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Pneumonia Outbreak: Pneumonia outbreak in children in US raises ‘alarm’. Is it linked to China?

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Warren County, Ohio, is currently experiencing a significant increase in pediatric pneumonia cases, surpassing the threshold for what health officials are calling an “outbreak.”
The Warren County Health District released a statement on Thursday reporting 145 cases of pediatric pneumonia among childrenaged 3 to 14. “Not only is this above the county average, it also meets the Ohio Department of Health definition of an outbreak.We do not think this is a novel/new respiratory disease but rather a large uptick in the number of pneumonia cases normally seen at one time,” the release stated.
According to a Newsweek report, Warren County authorities have found “zero evidence” linking these cases to any respiratory illnesses occurring “statewide, nationally, or internationally”.
In response to a request for additional information from Newsweek, the Warren County Health District referred back to its press release. The release mentioned, “While the number of cases is higher this year, the severity is similar to previous years. Most cases recover at home and are treated with antibiotics.” The pathogens identified in these cases include “Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Adenovirus.” No deaths have been reported in the county.
Amidst the Ohio pneumonia outbreak, social media has been abuzz with discussions. Charlie Kirk, conservative radio talk-show host and founder of Turning Point USA, posted on X (formerly Twitter): “JUST IN—The ‘Mystery pneumonia’ affecting kids and ripping through China and parts of Europe, is reportedly now in America. 142 child cases of ‘white lung syndrome’ have now been recorded in Warren County, Ohio since August, meaning if true, it’s been here for months.” Kirk added, “CDC officials are saying ‘nothing is out of the ordinary’ but according to county health official ‘Not only is this above the county average, it also meets the Ohio Department of Health definition of an outbreak.’ Just in time for election season! Whatever is going on, never again and do not comply.” It should be noted that Warren County health officials have not referred to this illness as “white lung syndrome” and have said, “It is not uncommon for respiratory illnesses to spread in the community during this time of year.”
Entrepreneur Mario Nawfal also commented on the situation via X, saying, “BREAKING: US Kids Pneumonia Outbreak – Ohio Fights Back, WHO Probes China’s Crisis! Ohio is battling a frightening outbreak of pediatric pneumonia, prompting an emergency express lane for kids, as the US faces a health emergency mirroring China’s. The US is reeling from a sharp rise in child respiratory infections, closely resembling China’s alarming outbreak.”
This pediatric pneumonia outbreak in Ohio is raising alarm because of a severe outbreak of respiratory illnesses in Children in China.Several regions in China have also seen a surge in respiratory illnesses, particularly affecting children, for five consecutive weeks since mid-October.
This China outbreak is leading to online speculation about a potential new pandemic, similar to the emergence of Covid-19 in the country four years ago. This situation has reignited pandemic-related concerns on social media, with users expressing fears about “a new virus coming from China” or a “new Covid.”
Chinese health officials, however, have clarified that the increase in infections is due to a combination of familiar viruses. The Chinese authorities have linked the spike in cases to the lifting of Covid restrictions, the onset of the cold season, and the spread of known pathogens, including influenza, mycoplasma pneumonia, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19.
ProMED, a public disease surveillance system that previously issued an early alert about the pneumonia cases later identified as Covid-19, reported that several Chinese hospitals were struggling with a high influx of sick children due to a pneumonia outbreak. This outbreak is reportedly concentrated in Beijing, but also in Liaoning province in the northeast and other regions of China.
The symptoms observed include fever, lung inflammation without coughing, and pulmonary nodules – small lumps on the lungs typically resulting from past infections. There have been no reported fatalities.
The World Health Organization has that the spike in illnesses in China is not as high as before the Covid-19 pandemic, and reiterated that no new or unusual pathogens had been found in the recent cases.
Both China and the WHO have faced questions about the transparency of reporting on the earliest Covid-19 cases that emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
(With inputs from agencies)

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