Outbreaks hospitalizing children: NJ health officials calmly on guard
🏥 NJ is braced for a pneumonia spike
🏥 Pediatric cases rise every winter
🏥 NJ monitoring recent outbreaks elsewhere
Clusters of pneumonia hospitalizations among child patients in other countries and states have health officials on guard in New Jersey.
“The weekly percent of emergency department visits with diagnosed pneumonia is largely consistent with previous years for children aged 0 to 4 years,” according to the CDC report issued Dec. 1.
It noted “slight increases above typical levels for children aged 5 to 17 years, but still consistent with pre-pandemic years.”
State health officials have said that an uptick in respiratory illnesses and hospitalizations has been anticipated through the end of the year.
“The NJ Department of Health has been actively monitoring situations in China, Europe, and various regions across the United States,” a spokesperson said in response to New Jersey 101.5 on Friday.
The World Health Organization has been monitoring data from Chinese surveillance systems that have been showing an increase in respiratory illness in children in northern China, between mid-October and November.
Amid cases being monitored, "Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a common respiratory pathogen and a common cause of pediatric pneumonia, and is readily treated with antibiotics," according to WHO.
As part of preventative measures, the state encouraged residents to stay up to date on their vaccinations, including the latest against flu and COVID-19 and the newer RSV vaccine, if eligible.
Other “everyday precautions" — such as hand-washing and covering coughs and sneezes — were also recommended over the winter months, to prevent the spread of disease.
Are U.S. cases similar to this outbreak in China?
National health experts have stressed that a recent uptick in pneumonia among pediatric patients in Ohio and Massachusetts appears to be just that — and not a new respiratory illness.
“There has been zero evidence of this outbreak being connected to other outbreaks, either statewide, nationally or internationally,” officials in Ohio said as of Nov. 28.
At that point, there were 145 reported cases of pneumonia in children aged 3 to 14 years old, with most patients recovering at home and treated with antibiotics.
Around the same time in Massachusetts, healthcare professionals said there had been a rise in cases of RSV, as well as “walking pneumonia symptoms,” as reported by WesternMassNews.
NBC Boston was among those to point out that a term trending this season, “white lung syndrome," is not a medical term.
While the phrase has been used in some coverage of the Ohio pneumonia outbreak, Washington Post and Verifythis.com both reported that public health authorities do not use the term, which could be creating a false impression of some unknown, new mystery illness.
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