Europe Featured Health News Public Health

Pneumonia Cases Surge in the Netherlands

Childhood pneumonia cases are on the rise in the Netherlands, as reported by the country’s health agency. In the week of Nov. 13-19, there were 103 cases of pneumonia per 100,000 children aged 5 to 14, marking an increase from the previous week’s 83 cases, according to the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL). This surge surpasses the peak of the 2022 flu season, which recorded 58 pneumonia cases per 100,000 children.

Moreover, there’s a notable increase in pneumonia cases among children aged 4 and under in the Netherlands, rising from 124 to 145 per 100,000 within the same timeframe. China is also grappling with a surge in childhood pneumonia cases and respiratory illnesses. ProMED, the global digital disease surveillance system, reported a concerning situation in Chinese hospitals, particularly in Beijing, where an influx of sick children is overwhelming healthcare facilities due to the pneumonia outbreak.

During a press conference on Nov. 13, officials from the Chinese National Health Commission attributed the spike to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, marking the first flu season after the country lifted its stringent lockdown measures. They also pointed to the spread of various infectious diseases, including the flu, RSV, SARS-COV-2, and a bacterial infection known as mycoplasma pneumoniae, as outlined in a statement on the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

On Nov. 22, WHO announced its request for “additional epidemiologic and clinical information” from China, along with laboratory results from affected children. The organization is actively in contact with clinicians and scientists through established technical partnerships and networks in China to better understand the situation.

To mitigate the risk of spreading respiratory illnesses, WHO recommends that people in affected areas stay updated with vaccinations, practice distancing from sick individuals, stay home when unwell, seek medical care as needed, wear masks when appropriate, and maintain regular hand hygiene.

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, expressed some skepticism about China’s and WHO’s assurances that “everything’s OK.” He suggested that the surge might be akin to the “immune pause” experienced in the U.S. last year when the release of lockdowns led to a resurgence of upper respiratory viruses.

Dr. Siegel also highlighted the potential issue of an uptick in the mycoplasma bug in China, cautioning against excessive use of Z-Pac antibiotics, which could result in a resistant mycoplasma and potential hospitalization. He believes a combination of factors contributes to the current situation.

For high-risk groups, including those over 65, Dr. Siegel recommends getting the pneumococcal vaccine, as well as vaccines for RSV and the flu. Dr. Edward Liu, infectious diseases section chief at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center, emphasized that historical trends show RSV and flu causing respiratory infections during the winter season. He suggested that sudden surges in respiratory infections could be attributed to these common pathogens.

Dr. Liu noted concerns about the rapid international spread of respiratory viruses and stressed the importance of assistance from organizations like WHO and CDC in determining the causes of respiratory infections in China and the Netherlands.

Source : Zawya