Skip to main content

What is ‘White Lung Syndrome?’

With headlines about pneumonia outbreaks and clusters and what is known as “white lung syndrome” popping up in newspapers and around the internet, it can be difficult to find concise answers about what’s happening. Dr. Gail Tudor, director of Southern New Hampshire University’s (SNHU) Master of Public Health program, said the term “white lung syndrome” isn’t an official diagnosis at all. 

Director of SNHU's master's in public health programs Dr. Gail Tudor.The more official term is mycoplasma pneumonia, a bacterial infection, that is sometimes called white lung syndrome because it causes the lungs to appear white in x-rays. Another more familiar term is walking pneumonia, which derives its name from patients’ ability to maintain normal activities or at least avoid being hospitalized, Tudor said. 

In November, health officials in Warren County Ohio (Warren County PDF Source) reported 142 cases of pediatric pneumonia since August, which met the state’s definition of an outbreak. 

"(It’s) important to note that not all children in Ohio have mycoplasma pneumonia,” she said. “There are different bacteria and viruses that can cause pneumonia.” 



In fact, Tudor said health officials aren’t particularly concerned with the cases in Ohio or a number of cases reported in western Massachusetts. Neither is considered an epidemic, she said, pointing to CDC director Mandy Cohen’s comments to reporters on Dec. 1l. 

“So, what we are seeing is a seasonal trend and some years are worse than others,” she said. “In addition, due to less interactions among people during the Covid pandemic there was less spread other infectious diseases, like pneumonia. This resulted in a larger amount of susceptible people this season than in the past and an increased amount of social interaction.” 

While children under 2, along with adults over 65, are most susceptible, parents do not need to be overly concerned about their children or avoid any normal activities. She recommended normal precautions, such as avoiding sick people, washing your hands regularly and treating any chronic illnesses. In addition, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated against the flu and Covid-19.

Finally, there is no concern that white lung syndrome or other pneumonia clusters are a sign of another pandemic following Covid-19. 

“There is no evidence that the cases in Ohio are connected to other states or countries, and they would need to be connected for there to be a pandemic,” Tudor said.

A degree can change your life. Choose your program from 200+ SNHU degrees that can take you where you want to go.

Joe Cote is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Explore more content like this article

SNHU Campus Green Space

SNHU Graduate Programs in Health Information Management, Public Health, Recognized for Academic Standards, Quality

Two graduate programs at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) were recently recognized by accrediting bodies for each program’s commitment to industry standards and continuous improvement in higher education in their field.
CAEP Excellence in Educator Preparation Accreditation badge

SNHU Educator Prep Programs Recognized for National Excellence

Southern New Hampshire University's School of Arts, Sciences, and Education secures accreditation from CAEP for educator preparation programs, ensuring high standards and competitive advantages for graduates. The accreditation, effective until Fall 2030, signifies quality and excellence in teacher training.
SNHU Campus Green Space

FAFSA Changes in 2024: What You Need to Know

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has changed. But the changes are actually intended to simplify the process of applying for financial aid. Find out more about the recent FAFSA update from a financial aid expert at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).

About Southern New Hampshire University

Two students walking in front of Monadnock Hall

SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.