China sees undiagnosed pneumonia outbreak in children: Report

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China is experiencing a major pneumonia outbreak with no known cause in children, and it is overwhelming paediatric hospitals in the country, according to a report. The children are mainly seeing symptoms including high fever, with some kids developing pulmonary nodules. There is so far no indication that the infections are deadly. But the reports are eerily similar to early reports of a mystery pneumonia outbreak in late 2019 in Wuhan, which heralded the emergence of COVID-19, leading the “parents to question whether the authorities are covering up the epidemic”, said a post on ProMED Mail, the online reporting system of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

It said that the outbreak of pneumonia in China has overwhelmed paediatric hospitals in Beijing, Liaoning and other places with sick children. Schools and classes are also on the verge of suspension. “Not only are all students sick, but teachers are also infected with pneumonia,” the post read. “Many, many are hospitalised. They don’t cough and have no symptoms. They just have a high temperature (fever) and many develop pulmonary nodules,” a Beijing citizen at the Beijing Children’s Hospital reported. “Now you are not allowed to report to school. If you have any symptoms such as fever, cold, cough and then you are hospitalised, you can ask for leave.”

Dalian Children’s Hospital in Liaoning Province is also full of sick children receiving intravenous drips. There are also queues of patients at the traditional Chinese medicine hospitals and the central hospitals, the report said. “Patients have to wait in line for 2 hours, and we are all in the emergency department and there are no general outpatient clinics,” according to a staff member of Dalian Central Hospital. Some observers speculate the outbreak could be caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae, commonly known as “walking pneumonia.” “It is possible #China could be seeing a surge in respiratory infections as other countries did in their first winter after lockdown,” Krutika Kuppalli, MD, an infectious disease physician who is with the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme wrote on X.

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“They have already reported a surge of #Mycoplasma pneumonia but this could be anything – let’s gather data,” she added. China has been experiencing epidemics such as influenza, mycoplasma, and bronchopneumonia since the beginning of the year, reportedly after it stopped adhering to the “zero” Covid policy.