An outbreak of a new strain of bacterial pneumonia, called White Lung Syndrome, is affecting children worldwide. It primarily affects kids between the ages of three and eight years old. According to The Metro, the illness consists of a rapid progression of pneumonia symptoms that leads to breathing difficulty and lung damage that can sometimes look like a rash or swollen glands on the neck and face. The disease is caused by mycoplasma pneumonia, a bacterium that many antibiotics cannot fight. The bacterium can also cause meningitis, leading to brain inflammation and strokes.
Symptoms include coughing, fever, and fatigue. It can be more severe in children with compromised immune systems. It can also spread quickly from person to person, as it is easily spread by air.
The disease has popped up in countries worldwide, including China, Denmark, and the Netherlands. But now Ohio has become the first American location to report a wave of this mystery pneumonia. The health department in Warren County says it has seen 142 pediatric cases of the bacterial illness since August, which is more than the average for the area and meets the government’s definition of an outbreak.
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This comes as Beijing struggles with a similar respiratory sickness filling up Chinese hospitals, prompting authorities to recommend face masks and social distancing. The World Health Organization has even asked China for more details about the situation. The CDC, however, maintains that the surge in China is due to a combination of COVID-19, flu, RSV, and mycoplasma infections, not a new pathogen.
On Wednesday, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director joined NewsNation to discuss this latest development. Tom Frieden, MD, says that even though it’s not a “no-result,” the outbreak is still worrisome. He adds that it’s occurring as countries emerge from the COVID pandemic, which means we could face more of these problems in the future.
As the disease spreads, many parents urge others to stay home from school and work, avoid public spaces, and practice proper hand hygiene. Some parents also use face masks on their kids to help prevent the infection.