An increase in cases of mycoplasma pneumonia in children has led to outbreaks in Ohio, Massachusetts, China, and Denmark. However, officials have stated that these outbreaks are not connected and are not caused by a new or novel virus. Mycoplasma pneumonia is a respiratory infection caused by a bacteria called mycoplasma pneumoniae. While it typically results in mild respiratory infections, it can progress into a serious lung infection that may require hospitalization.
In Ohio, the Warren County Health District reported an outbreak of pneumonia in children between the ages of three and 14. The outbreak, which began in August, has affected at least 145 children. The bacteria mycoplasma pneumoniae, along with streptococcus pneumoniae and adenovirus, were identified as the causes of the pneumonia cases.
Massachusetts is also experiencing an outbreak of pediatric cases of "walking pneumonia," which is a mild form of pneumonia often caused by mycoplasma pneumoniae. Additionally, there has been an increase in other respiratory illnesses like respiratory syncytial virus.
Similar outbreaks have been reported in China and Denmark. In Denmark, mycoplasma pneumonia infections have reached epidemic status, with over 540 cases reported last week. Chinese officials attribute the uptick in respiratory illnesses to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and have identified known illnesses like COVID-19, RSV, the flu, and mycoplasma pneumonia as the causes. The World Health Organization supports this explanation and suggests that the surge in cases is not unexpected due to the removal of COVID-19 restrictions.
Mycoplasma pneumonia is most common in the fall and late summer, and it mainly affects children and younger adults. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, wheezing, ear infection, and chest soreness. While most infections are mild and last for a few days, severe complications can occur, such as lung abscess, respiratory failure, fluid buildup in the lungs, and pus in the lungs. Unlike COVID-19 and the flu, there are no vaccines to prevent mycoplasma infection, but it can be treated with antibiotics as it is a bacterial infection.
In summary, the recent outbreaks of mycoplasma pneumonia in children in various locations are not linked to a new or novel virus. Health officials attribute the increase in cases to normal pediatric infections and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in certain areas.