27 Nov 2023

What is pneumonia spreading among children in China? Is it cause of worry for India?

China lifted all restrictions after 3 years in Corona lockdown. A month later, i.e. in October 2023, a mysterious lung disease started spreading here and over 7000 children are reaching the hospitals here every day.

Experts say that like Corona, this disease is also contagious. It is spreading from one city to another in China. WHO is demanding details, but China has not given all details.

The Chinese official authority is calling this disease mysterious pneumonia.

Surveillance platform had issued alert regarding pneumonia in China

China's health authority says that this is a common pneumonia disease. It is not a new disease or infection caused by any new bacteria or viruses. However, on November 15, 2023, a surveillance platform named ProMED issued a worldwide alert regarding pneumonia in China. ProMED is the largest publicly-available surveillance system conducting global reporting of infectious diseases outbreaks.

The same organization had also issued an alert regarding Corona in 2019. This organization says that 13 thousand children were admitted to hospitals in Beijing in one day. More than 7 thousand children are coming to the hospital every day. All this is reminiscent of the Corona-like situation of 2019. Looking at all this, it does not seem that this is just ordinary pneumonia.

Phlegm is not being formed in affected children

According to doctors, when someone has pneumonia, phlegm also develops, but the surprising thing is that in the mysterious pneumonia of China, phlegm is not being formed in children. In the X-ray of his chest, nodules i.e. a kind of round rashes are visible on his lungs. These are called pulmonary nodules. The type of nodules being formed are mostly formed in bacterial infections, this does not happen in viral infections.

Cross infection

Experts believe that looking at the children suffering from the disease, it seems that they not only suffer from mycoplasma pneumonia but also some viral infection. They could be infected with both bacteria and viruses simultaneously. This is called co-infection or cross infection.

In many such cases even medicines do not work. If there is only mycoplasma pneumonia in children, there are medicines for it. If medicines had worked on children in China, the situation would have been under control. China has also accepted this. China said on Sunday that this is a disease spread by many pathogens.

Why is this mysterious disease spreading rapidly in China?


Why is this mysterious disease spreading rapidly in China? Doctors say that one reason for the worsening condition in China could also be the zero Covid policy imposed there during the Corona period. Due to the strictness imposed at that time, immunity could not develop in many children. They remained confined to their homes.

Now when they are going out, they are becoming vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. Their body does not have the immunity to fight them. That's why children are falling ill rapidly here.

The immunity of children is weak, hence this disease is affecting children. This does not mean that this is a disease spreading only among children. This can affect adults with weak immunity.

Does India need to be alert?


This disease has spread in many parts of China. It has a huge impact especially in the northern areas.

Some cases have also been reported from China's neighboring country Vietnam. It is clearly visible that the disease is spreading. In such a situation, the possibility cannot be ruled out that this disease can spread to other countries also, including India.

It can spread to India also. India needs to be cautious about this although there is no need to panic. The Government of India has already asked States and UTs to stay alert and to make necessary healthcare preparations to deal with any health emergency.


Most people will recover from infection on their own

Doctors say most people will recover from an infection on their own or with over-the-counter medications to help alleviate symptoms. But more severe illness will typically require a course of antibiotics. That's especially concerning since China has the world's highest incidence of mycoplasma pneumoniae that's resistant to a class of antibiotic called macrolides.

Up to 60 to 70 per cent of adult cases and up to 80% of cases in kids don't respond to Zithromax and similar drugs, Yin Yudong, an infectious diseases doctor at Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, the nation's top respiratory disease center, told Beijing News earlier this month.


Positive news


Meanwhile, a rapidly organized meeting between the World Health Organization and health officials in China assuaged much of the concern that this could be a Covid like infection.

The evidence presented to the WHO team pointed to what’s sometimes called an immunity gap that was created by the pandemic. A dramatic reduction in circulation of other viruses and bacteria created a cohort of kids with few immunological defenses against bugs like influenza, RSV, and other cold-causing viruses, setting the stage for large outbreaks when those pathogens returned.

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