Health officials in Ohio are tracking a surge in pediatric pneumonia cases in Warren County, with 145 cases reported in children aged 3 to 14 since August. Although these are considered “typical pediatric pneumonia cases” in terms of severity, the prevalence has led to an unusually high number of hospitalizations, meeting the criteria for an outbreak according to the Ohio Department of Health. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the national incidence of pediatric pneumonia is not unusual, the concentrated cases in Ohio raise concerns about a potential strain on local hospitals and pediatric urgent care centers. At the same time, experts are dismissing any connection between the Ohio outbreak and the pediatric pneumonia surges recently reported in China.
Here’s the good news: No deaths have been reported in the United States as of November 30. While the number of cases is high, the severity is similar to previous years. That means most kids recover at home and can likely be treated with antibiotics. Among the theories as to why children are more susceptible to this surge of pneumonia is the idea that the previous isolation during pandemic lockdowns is making kids vulnerable to seasonal illnesses with what some are referring to as “immunity debt.”