“White Lung Syndrome”—Is It the Next Plague?

By Shenalyn Page | Posted December 11, 2023

A recent surge of pneumonia cases among children in Warren County, Ohio, had parents across the country worrying about a new superbug from China. Erroneously called “white lung syndrome” by some news sources, the reports linked the cases to pneumonia outbreaks in China and suggested that the Ohio outbreak was caused by a new pathogen that could spread rapidly and cause considerable damage.

Subsequent reports have stressed that the 145 cases of pediatric pneumonia reported in Ohio since August have resulted in no deaths and are caused by familiar pathogens that have no connection to similar outbreaks in Europe and China. Health officials expect an uptick in respiratory illnesses at this time of the year. While the outbreak in Ohio is higher than normal, it is not a significant concern. “As of today, we are not seeing anything that is atypical in terms of pneumonia-related emergency department visits,” CDC Director Mandy Cohen stated.

“There is zero evidence that what we’re seeing in Warren County has any connection to any respiratory activity in the state, in the country, or in the world,” Dr. Clint Koenig, the medical director of Warren County Health District told ABC News.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae, a type of bacteria that can cause pneumonia, causes the lungs to appear white in an X-ray. News reports incorrectly called it “white lung syndrome,” thus sparking fears of a new disease. “White lung syndrome” is a medical buzzword, not an official diagnosis.

Why We Get Sick in the Winter

The winter months are typically times when respiratory illnesses are more common. Colds, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), COVID-19, and influenza are common causes of respiratory illnesses and pneumonia. People are indoors more, thus making it easier to transmit viruses and bacteria. The cold, dry air can also lower immunity.

A recent study by Harvard Medical School and Northwestern University researchers uncovered a previously unknown cause for the increase in respiratory illnesses during winter. When a pathogen enters the nose, “cells in the front of the nose detect the bacteria and then release billions of tiny fluid-filled sacs called extracellular vesicles, or EVs, into the mucus to surround and attack the bacteria.” The researchers discovered that this biological response decreased by up to 40% in cold weather.

Four Ways to Stay Healthy During the Winter

It’s no wonder many of us get sick during winter when the cold blunts our natural immune response. Yet there are many things we can do to strengthen our immune systems and stay healthy all year. In fact, God wants our bodies to remain strong no matter the season. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).

Here are four simple ways God has given us to improve our immune systems:

1. Whole-food, Plant-based Diet: The original diet that God gave to humanity consisted solely of plants. “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food” (Genesis 1:29). It is still the best diet for building and maintaining health. Plant foods provide the raw ingredients—vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and other compounds—that the immune system needs to fight off intruders.

2. Outdoor Exercise: Vigorous activity in God’s fresh air and sunshine is one of the best ways to ward off winter illnesses. The sun helps your body produce vitamin D, modulating the immune system and allowing it to fight disease more effectively. Deep breaths of fresh, clean air help oxygenate your system, boosting immune cells—and your mental health. Regular, moderate exercise produces the most significant immune system benefits.

3. Water Therapy: Drinking plenty of pure, clean water is essential for good health, especially during winter. Water enables life, keeps our bodies clean, inside and out, and promotes health in many ways. If you feel an illness coming on, try drinking twice as much water as usual. Hydrotherapy effectively improves circulation and fights off sickness. A hot-and-cold shower is a simple way to do this at home: Enjoy the hot water for three minutes, then turn the shower to cold for 30 seconds. Do at least three cycles of hot and cold for maximum benefits. Make sure to end with cold for the greatest increase in immune cell activity.

4. Sufficient Rest: Your body needs regular rest periods to stay healthy and strong. Getting seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night is one of the best ways to improve your immune system. Your body produces white blood cells, a critical component of the immune system, and a protein called cytokines, which target infection and inflammation, during sleep. Observing a weekly Sabbath rest also gives your body the necessary time to heal and rejuvenate. 

The “white lung” outbreak may not be anything unusual, but it is a good reminder to prioritize taking care of our bodies. When we live according to God’s health principles, we glorify Him with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20) and place ourselves where He can fulfill His promise to care for our health.

“If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).

To learn more about God’s health principles found in the Bible and proven by science, please request a digital or print copy of our free magazine Amazing Health Facts: 8 Secrets for a Longer and Healthier Life.

Listen to White Lung Syndrome—Is It the Next Plague? below
Shenalyn Page
Shenalyn Page is a homeschool mom and a writer for Amazing Facts International. She loves telling stories of God’s leading in people’s lives.

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