2 Dec 2023

China's 'mysterious pneumonia' reaches Europe; also spreading in America, children's lungs turning white in US

The 'mysterious pneumonia' of children which surfaced in China has now reached Europe. Cases of pneumonia in children have increased rapidly in the Netherlands. Dutch health experts say that the cases of children aged 5 to 14 years falling ill have increased rapidly. However, it is a matter of relief that there has been no death due to this so far. 

According to the data of the Netherlands Institute for Health Service Research (NIVEL), in the week ending November 16, 103 out of 1 lakh children aged 5 to 14 years have died. Symptoms of pneumonia have been found, which is almost double compared to last year's peak (58 cases).

This figure is 24% more than the 83 patients per 1 lakh children recorded in the first week of November. On the other hand, cases of pneumonia in children under four years of age have also increased from 125 to 145 per lakh. However, these are still less than the pre-Covid level.

On November 13, more than 13 thousand cases were reported in China in 24 hours. In many cities including Beijing, there is no space available in hospitals due to children falling ill. Experts say that currently there is a rise in the cases of flu, Covid and RSV in the Netherlands. 

All three cause pneumonia. Virologist Prof Len Jones of Reading University says that the reason why cases are increasing in the Netherlands is not clear. It could also be a seasonal disease and its spread in China could also be a coincidence. There can be many causes of pneumonia, a thorough analysis is needed to understand it. At present the samples are being thoroughly tested.

Spreading in USA also

The mysterious disease like China has now started spreading in America also. Most of its victims are said to be children aged 3 to 8 years. Their lungs are turning white due to the disease. Cases of this disease are increasing rapidly in Massachusetts and Ohio of America. There this bacterial pneumonia is being called white lung syndrome.

142 cases of this disease have been reported in Warren County, Ohio. Doctors in Massachusetts say that White Lung Syndrome is a mixture of bacterial and viral infection, like the mysterious disease in China.

Travel ban on China demanded 

At the same time, in view of the danger of the disease spreading, America's Republican Party lawmakers have demanded from President Biden a travel ban on China. Five MPs say that one should not wait for WHO for more information on the disease. To save people and economy, there is a need to immediately impose a travel ban on China.

White Lung Syndrome

White Lung Syndrome is characterized by the presence of white-colored patches visible in the chest X-rays of afflicted children. This condition is primarily associated with two types of diseases: Pulmonary Alveolar Microlithiasis (PAM) and silicosis.

In PAM, the accumulation of calcium in the lungs leads to difficulties in breathing, accompanied by coughing and chest pain. Silicosis, on the other hand, is caused by the inhalation of substances such as dust, stones, and silica, resulting in the appearance of white spots in the lungs.

White Lung Syndrome distinct from a similar condition in China

It's important to note that White Lung Syndrome observed in America is distinct from a similar condition in China. In the American cases, individuals experience symptoms like coughing, high fever, and body aches, while the Chinese variant does not involve phlegm formation but presents symptoms such as cough, sore throat, lung swelling, and respiratory tract inflammation.

Despite these differences, there are some similarities between the two conditions. Both diseases are considered to be a combination of bacterial and viral infections. Experts say that a lack of immunity, particularly in children, plays a significant role in the onset of these illnesses. The global lockdown measures kept children indoors, hindering the development of immunity against environmental bacteria and viruses. As restrictions ease and children resume outdoor activities, they become more susceptible to falling ill.

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