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Pneumonia uptick in China – don't panic

Posted by: The Conversation Global highlights

Date: Monday, 27 November 2023

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Social and news media erupted into a frenzy late last week when reports emerged of a mysterious outbreak of pneumonia-like illness in China, accompanied by images of crowded hospitals. The cases are mostly affecting children, but adults as well. It’s not altogether surprising this news sent people into a panic, given the events of the COVID pandemic.

But as C Raina MacIntyre and her colleagues from UNSW Sydney explain, this isn’t cause for alarm. Rather than a single unknown pathogen, the outbreak appears to be due to a number of known respiratory pathogens, including the bacteria mycoplasma, RSV, influenza and adenovirus.

Although there is no indication that the current situation in China is a new pandemic, we should always pay attention to, and work to identify, undiagnosed pneumonia clusters. According to MacIntyre and her team, early warning systems give us the best chance of preventing the next pandemic.

Phoebe Roth

Deputy Health Editor, Melbourne

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