Ohio ‘White Lung’ Pneumonia Outbreak Explained

ohio white lung outbreak

Megan Jelinger/AFP via Getty A healthcare worker is pictured at Van Wert County Hospital in Ohio in 2020.

Ohio officials say the white lung pneumonia cases seen in Warren County are not a “new respiratory disease.”

According to a press release from the Warren County Health District, the district “has received an extremely high number of pediatric pneumonia cases being reported this fall season. Since August, there have been 142 cases of pediatric pneumonia reported.”

Warren County says those numbers are “above the county average” and “also meets the Ohio Department of Health definition of an outbreak. We do not think this is a novel/new respiratory disease but rather a large uptick in the number of pneumonia cases normally seen at one time.”

According to News Nation Now, Ohio “is the first state in the U.S. to report an outbreak of the illness, with an ‘extremely high’ number of children being hospitalized.”

The World Health Organization has asked China “for information about a potentially worrying spike in respiratory illnesses and clusters of pneumonia in children,” NPR reported. However, Dr. Mandy Cohen, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a House committee hearing on November 30 that there is no evidence the Ohio cases are linked to what’s going on in China, according to CBS News.

“What we do know as of, again, as of today is we do not believe this is a new or novel pathogen,” she said, CBS reported. “We believe this is all existing, meaning COVID, flu, RSV, mycoplasma.”

Here’s what you need to know:

Warren County Has Not Found a Definitive ‘Common Thread’ Linking the Pneumonia Outbreak Cases


GettyHealthcare professionals work in the ICU at Van Wert County Hospital in Van Wert, Ohio on November 20, 2020. – As Covid-19 numbers spike across Ohio, rural hospitals and staff take on the rising number of patients being admitted.

To date, Warren County wrote, “there has not been a definitive etiology determined or a common thread linking these pneumonias. We have an ongoing investigation to examine possible linkages and risk factors.”

According to the county, the average age “thus far is around 8 years old, the cases span multiple school districts and there have been no conclusive patterns among the children diagnosed. Based on some data responses from a recent parent questionnaire, most common symptoms included cough, fever and fatigue.”

Officials added: “Among the pathogens recovered included Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Streptococcus pnuemoniae and Adenovirus.”

Warren County, Ohio, Officials Are Working With Local Hospitals to Try to ‘Determine a Cause,’ Officials Say

WCHD is working with “the Ohio Department of Health, local children’s hospitals and primary care providers in hopes to determine a cause and further prevent the spread of illness,” the press release says.

“One recommendation is for providers to have a lower threshold to test children presenting with cough, fever and/or fatigue and consider nasopharyngeal swabs for respiratory viruses, mycoplasma and pertussis,” it adds.

“WCHD sent out a notification with education to Warren County providers last week in an effort to further clarify the nature of the outbreak. As we approach the holiday season, when many of us will be gathering together with family and friends, please remember to take necessary precautions to protect your health: wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home when ill, and stay up to date on vaccines,” notes the press release.

“If you have any questions or need to report a pneumonia case, please contact the Warren County Health District at 513-695-20.”

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