As hospitals in China are reportedly overwhelmed by a surge of mysterious childhood pneumonia cases, outbreaks are starting to crop up in other countries, including parts of the U.S.
“As of today, the CDC is not seeing anything out of the ordinary related to levels of mycoplasma across the country, but we are watching it closely,” Dr. Mandy Cohen, M.D., the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told Fox News contributor Dr. Marc Siegel in an emailed statement on Friday.
Another infectious diseases expert, Dr. Sarah Park, medical director of medical affairs at Karius, a California biotech company, told Fox News Digital that the surge in respiratory illnesses, including cases of pneumonia, is primarily attributed to common pathogens like Mycoplasma pneumoniae, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adenoviruses and influenza virus.
“There is no indication of a novel virus causing these illnesses,” said Park, who was formerly with the CDC as an epidemic intelligence service officer.
She has contributed to combating diseases such as bacterial respiratory diseases, West Nile Virus and SARS.
The condition has been described as “white lung syndrome,” which is a reference to the appearance of the chest scans that show “diffusely damaged lungs” related to severe cases of pneumonia, Park noted.
The increase in respiratory illnesses is believed to be due to a combination of factors.
Respiratory illnesses typically surge in the colder months, but this has been compounded by a post-pandemic effect, according to experts.
“This is the first winter without strict COVID-19 measures, and that has likely led to increased exposure and susceptibility to common respiratory infections,” Park said.
“Prolonged lockdowns and other COVID-19 containment measures have limited people’s exposure to common pathogens, potentially reducing population immunity levels.”
While Park called the outbreaks “concerning,” she said there is “no current indication that it represents a novel pathogen or a threat on the scale of a new pandemic.”
She added, “Most of the reported pathogens are well-known and typically manageable.”
In China, ProMED, the global digital disease surveillance system, reported that the country’s hospitals — primarily in Beijing — have become “overwhelmed with sick children” as a result of the pneumonia outbreak.
The Netherlands has also seen a surge. During the week of Nov. 13-19, there were 103 pneumonia cases for every 100,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14, according to the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL).
Some areas in the U.S. have also reported outbreaks or upticks in cases, including the states of Ohio and Massachusetts.
Pneumonia, or “white lung syndrome,” is usually treated with a course of antibiotics.
There is some concern about antibiotic resistance, particularly in the case of Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections, Park noted.
“Overuse or misuse of antibiotics can lead to strains that are harder to treat, emphasizing the need for responsible antibiotic prescribing and usage,” she said.
Read the full story here.
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.