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Video: A New Epidemic? Undiagnosed Pneumonia Outbreak in China Hitting Children, Schools Closed

Nov 23, 2023

Undiagnosed Pneumonia Outbreak

A recent surge in pneumonia cases among children in China has raised concerns. According to ProMED Mail, a platform run by the International Society for Infectious Diseases, there are increasing instances of children’s hospitals being inundated across several regions. While these cases haven’t been linked to fatalities, they bear a striking resemblance to the initial accounts of a mysterious pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan in late 2019, which was the precursor to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Symptoms in Children

The predominant symptoms in affected children include high fevers and, in some instances, the development of lung nodules.

Numerous media outlets have highlighted the strain on pediatric healthcare facilities in various areas, notably Beijing and Liaoning. The situation has led to school closures and illnesses among educators.

Tracking the Outbreak

Experts are considering the possibility that the outbreak might be due to Mycoplasma pneumoniae, often referred to as “walking pneumonia.” The online forum FluTrackers has been monitoring the rise in pediatric hospital admissions and the prevalence of Mycoplasma pneumoniae since early summer.

Further details are awaited. The CDC notes that Mycoplasma pneumoniae typically results in mild respiratory illnesses, which can escalate to more severe conditions necessitating hospitalization. In children, this infection often presents symptoms similar to a chest cold and can spread rapidly in densely populated environments like schools and dormitories.

Krutika Kuppalli, MD, an infectious disease specialist associated with the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, suggested on Twitter that China might be experiencing an uptick in respiratory infections similar to what other countries encountered in their first winter following the easing of lockdown measures.