Infectious Disease Expert Explains White Lung Syndrome

( – Hospitals in China and other countries are reporting a minor uptick in admissions of children for pneumonia symptoms. Some areas of China are reporting seeing their hospitals at capacity due to so many children suffering from the condition.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, head of the CDC, told Fox News they aren’t concerned with the uptick so far in the U.S. She also said that the spike in cases is within the normal range anticipated for this time of year.

Dr. Sarah Park is the director of medical affairs with the California biotech company, Karius. She told Fox News that the rise in pneumonia cases is primarily due to common ailments like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adenoviruses (common cold), influenza viruses, or Mycoplasma (a bacterial infection).

Park said that there was no new novel virus causing the spike in hospitalizations. She had previously served with the CDC as an epidemic researcher and has been involved with responses to SARS, West Nile Virus, and other bacterial diseases.

They’re calling the illness “white lung syndrome” due to the appearance of lung damage on chest scans which looks white in the image.

Doctors blame post-pandemic impacts of sheltering and lockdowns reducing immunity in the population. Park suggested isolation breeds susceptibility to disease while exposure leads to resilience.

She said that while the outbreak was “concerning” there was no indication that anything like the pandemic was on the way. She said the cases are manageable and the pathogens involved all have known effective treatments. Park suggested bacterial pneumonia was treated with antibiotics, which could cause antibiotic resistance at some point in the future. She stressed treatment must be completed according to proper protocols.

China’s ProMED digital disease surveillance system is indicating that many Beijing-area hospitals are “overwhelmed with sick children” suffering pneumonia symptoms.

There have also been similar reports coming out of the Netherlands, though they’re reporting a rate of 103 cases per 100,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14. That data came from the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research.

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