COVID-19 and Pediatrics
August 5, 2020
As the new school year quickly approaches, it’s understandable that many parents and families are wondering about the risks associated with COVID-19. As most of you know by now, this virus infection is easily transmitted from an infected individual through breathing or contact with respiratory secretions and can cause a broad range of symptoms from fever, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, headache, and diarrhea. The symptoms can worsen throughout the course of illness, leading to breathing difficulty, low oxygen levels in the body, pneumonia, multiple vital organ failure, and death. Some who contract this virus may show no symptoms at all. However, even those who have no symptoms and feel healthy can readily spread this virus to others, including children.
Due to the pandemic, the beginning of the school year will look very different and it is important to keep in mind how COVID-19 may affect children and how we can keep ourselves and our children safe. Although healthy children tend to do better than adults with less symptoms, some can succumb to an unusual complication from COVID-19 called multisystemic inflammatory syndrome of childhood (MIS-C). This illness manifests with fever, abnormal heart function, vital organ failure, and shock. It is crucial that any child who is showing symptoms of MIS-C seek emergency care immediately. Currently there are few treatment options, and it remains vital that we prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19 in children and adults, if we wish to decrease this very serious complication in our youngest patients.
Another key component of COVID-19, is that even those who feel healthy and have no symptoms may still spread the virus to others. This is important to keep in mind as parents try to arrange for child care options while they’re at work and children participate in distance learning. Many of the infection prevention measures such as wearing a mask, and social distancing are important even if you don’t feel sick.
In order to minimize the number of people affected, it is very important that everyone adhere to proper measures at all times to prevent the transmission of this virus to others in our family and communities. These essential measures include wearing face covering (masks), practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing, avoiding unessential travel, and staying home, especially when sick. Everyone has a role to help bring this widespread infection under control and keep our loved ones safe and healthy. Our ability to return to some sense of normalcy in the school year to come will depend on all of us doing our part.
About the Author: Chokechai Rongkavilit, MD (Dr. Chai) is a pediatric infectious disease expert who provides services at University Pediatrics Specialists. Dr. Chai also holds a faculty appointment with University of California, San Francisco in the UCSF Fresno Department of Pediatrics.
For more information about Dr. Chai and University Pediatric Specialists, please click here