POCATELLO, ID – When the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission in China first reported the pneumonia cases on Dec. 31, 2019 not much was known about the coronavirus. Almost a year later there is still a lot of unknows about it.
As doctors and researchers have learned more about the new COVID-19, they found in a majority of cases the disease seems to be much milder in babies and young children.
Southeast Idaho Public Health officials said while fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 as compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and can spread the virus to others.
“It’s important for parents and caregivers to understand that children can, in fact, be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and they can transmit it to others,” said Maggie Mann, Southeastern Idaho Public Health Director. ”Some infected children may not have any signs of being sick at all.”
Fever and cough are common COVID-19 symptoms in both adults and children; shortness of breath is more likely to be seen in adults. Children can have pneumonia, with or without obvious symptoms.
Children may also experience sore throat, excessive fatigue or diarrhea. Keep in mind, however, serious illness in children with COVID-19 is possible, and parents should stay alert if their child is diagnosed with, or shows signs of, the disease.
The coronavirus is highly contagious and children infected with the coronavirus can transmit it to other kids and adults, but whether they spread the illness more or less than adults is not yet clear. Although for the most part, children’s COVID-19 symptoms are milder than those of older people, evidence shows that infected kids carry at least as much of the virus in their mouths and noses as adults.
Children, regardless of age, with underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are at increased risk of severe illness compared to other children. If a child has an underlying health condition, make sure to discuss with your child’s healthcare provider about your child’s specific risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
“It’s important to keep your child at home if you think your child is sick with COVID-19. Contact your pediatrician, family care practitioner or urgent care clinic if you don’t have a doctor,” Mann said.
“Our recommendations to keep our kids safe and healthy are the same as for adults. They should maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet from individuals not in your household, wear a mask, wash your hands often, cover your coughs and sneezes, and stay home when you are sick.”
The Center for Disease Control and prevention said people should seek emergency medical attention if someone is showing any of these signs:
- Trouble Breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility. Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.