Public health professionals say none of the Ohio cases are related to new viruses or other novel pathogens. Meanwhile, Massachusetts is reporting its own child pneumonia outbreak.
In the wake of the surge in respiratory illness in China, public health officials are monitoring the reports of anything similar in this country.
So far, Ohio has become the first state in this country to report an uptick in pediatric pneumonia cases.
The Warren County Health District has reported 142 cases of the illness among children since August, according to a press release.
This is above the county average and meets the Ohio Department of Health’s definition of an outbreak.
However, officials do not think it is a new respiratory disease, but “rather a large uptick in the number of pneumonia cases normally seen at one time.”
The illness has spread across multiple school districts and the average age of those fallen ill is 8 years, the local health district said.
There have so far been “no conclusive patterns among the children diagnosed,” but many have symptoms of a cough, fever and fatigue.
The illness the children are experiencing is sometimes referred to as “white lung syndrome.” The symptoms include cough, fever, and fatigue. The type of bacterial pneumonia being reported can be treated with antibiotics and most don’t require hospitalization.
Public health professionals say none of the Ohio cases are related to new viruses or other novel pathogens.
Officials also said the recent illnesses are “not suspected of being a new/novel respiratory virus,” but instead appear to be an uptick in the number of “typical pediatric pneumonia cases.”
“There has been zero evidence of this outbreak being connected to other outbreaks, either statewide, nationally or internationally,” the statement said.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also addressed questions about it at a House committee hearing Thursday, saying there is no evidence of a new virus like COVID-19 in the China outbreak.
“What we do know as of, again, as of today is we do not believe this is a new or novel pathogen,” she said. “We believe this is all existing, meaning COVID, flu, RSV, mycoplasma.” Mycoplasma is a type of bacteria that can cause pneumonia.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts is reporting its own child pneumonia outbreak. In this case, the surge is being blamed on Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
Doctors in the Bay State noticed the rise in cases as Ohio reported enough cases to meet that state’s definition of an outbreak.
But physicians in western Massachusetts believe it is mostly RSV, a respiratory virus that kills more than 10,000 Americans each year — mostly young children and the elderly.
“This is the season for RSV and we’re seeing a whole lot of it … a lot of kids with upper viral respiratory infections, cough, runny nose, some fevers,” Dr. John Kelly from Redwood Pediatrics in East Longmeadow told Western Mass News.
“And the thinking with RSV is that it can cause lower viral respiratory infections, so they get spread to your lungs.”
He said most patients get better within a few days, but warned, “There are no medications to give to cure [it].
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