‘Zero evidence’ Ohio pneumonia outbreak is linked to China

A county in Ohio has recorded 142 cases of pediatric pneumonia since August

Martha McHardy
Friday 01 December 2023 17:18 GMT
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There is “zero evidence” that a pediatric pneumonia outbreak in Ohio is linked to China, a district health official has said.

A county in Ohio has recorded 142 cases of pediatric pneumonia since August, according to the Warren County Health District.

The district added that a number of those infected are cases of mycoplasma pneumonia, the illness that has driven recent outbreaks among children in Denmark and China, with the average patient being around eight years old.

China has recently experienced an uptick in respiratory illnesses among children, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), partly attributed to the removal of pandemic restrictions.

Taiwan’s health ministry warned on Thursday that older adults, young children and people with poor immunity should avoid travel to mainland China, Hong Kong or Macao due to a surge in infectious diseases.

The increase has led to a resurgence in cases of flu, adenovirus and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, but Ohio health officials have insisted that the outbreak of pneumonia in the state is not linked to any viruses circulating in China.

“There is zero evidence that what we’re seeing in Warren County has any connection to any respiratory activity in the state, in the country, or in the world,” Dr Clint Koenig, the medical director of Warren County Health District told ABC News.

He added that only a few of the 142 cases are mycoplasma pneumonia.

A pneumonia outbreak in Ohio, China and Denmark has mainly affected children

“Despite the headlines that we’re seeing in China, there is no indication that there are any new viruses or bacteria spreading from country to country,” Dr John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, said.

“This is typical seasonal bacterial and viral activity that we see each year.”

Bacterial infections such as mycoplasma pneumonia tend to make a resurgence every three to seven years in the US, with cases rising in colder months. Viruses like influenza, RSV, and the common cold follow similar trends.

“Based on our provisional assessment, we are seeing seasonal trends. Nothing is appearing out of the ordinary, but we are continuing to monitor,” said a spokesperson from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No deaths have been reported as a result of the pneumonia cases and, according to Dr Koenig the “vast majority” of cases are getting better and returning to school.

Dr Koenig also noted that although some cases have led to hospitalization, most have been patients with underlying conditions, and that the illnesses are no more severe than in previous years.

Symptoms of pneumonia include a cough, fever and fatigue. Mycoplasma pneumonia is often a milder form of pneumonia, but symptoms may last longer.

China has recently experienced an uptick in respiratory illnesses among children

Health officials have recommended that everyone over the age of six months old get an updated COVID-19 vaccine and their annual flu shot.

Older adults over the age of 60, pregnant women, and infants under the age of eight months are also eligible for an RSV vaccine to protect against severe illness and death.

Those with respiratory illness symptoms such as fever, cough or sore throat should stay at home, get tested, and seek treatment, according to the CDC.

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