Outbreaks of pneumonia, affecting children, have been seen in Denmark, China and the USA in recent weeks.

The state of Ohio, in the USA, is the latest area to report an outbreak, with some children affected experiencing mycoplasma pneumonia, also known as white lung syndrome.

Warren County Health District in Ohio reported 145 cases in children between the ages of three and 14 since August, confirming the spreading illness had been considered an “outbreak”.

But what is white lung syndrome, and how do you spot it?

White lung pneumonia symptoms

Symptoms of mycoplasma pneumonia depend on what type of infection has been caused. The most common type of infection related to white lung syndrome is tracheobronchitis, or a chest cold.

The common symptoms to look out for in this instance are a sore throat, feeling tired, a fever and a worsening cough that can last weeks or months.

Children under the age of five could develop other symptoms, including sneezing, vomiting, diarrhoea and a sore throat.

In more serious cases, white lung syndrome can cause pneumonia.

Common symptoms include fever and chills, shortness of breath, a cough and feeling tired.

What causes white lung syndrome?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in America, explains: “Mycoplasma pneumoniae are bacteria that can cause illness by damaging the lining of the respiratory system (throat, lungs, windpipe).

“People can have the bacteria in their nose or throat at one time or another without being ill.

“When someone infected coughs or sneezes, they create small respiratory droplets that contain the bacteria. Other people can get infected if they breathe in those droplets.

“Most people who spend a short amount of time with someone who is sick with M. pneumoniae do not get infected.

“However, the bacteria often spread between people who live together since they spend a lot of time together.”

White lung syndrome treatment

Most people will recover from infections caused by the bacteria without antibiotics, though doctors or pharmacists could provided over the counter medicine while you are recovering to help you feel better.

However, if someone develops pneumonia as a result of the bacteria, antibiotics could be prescribed.