What is it?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain of a family of viruses that affects many of us every year, causing a mild cold. What’s new about this particular coronavirus, is that it’s a new strain, and our immune systems have not yet been exposed to this particular strain. The good news is, because we have had viruses from the same family in the past, we should have some cross-immunity.
As of February 26, 2020 there were 14 cases in the US. The CDC updates these numbers every Mon., Wed., and Fri. at this website: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html. Research from other countries has shown that the illness is children is particularly mild and that those most at risk of becoming severely ill are “older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease).”
The virus is spread from person to person via close contact and passing of respiratory droplets with coughing or sneezing. Those at greatest risk of infection are those who have had prolonged contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19. “The incubation period for COVID-19 is thought to be within 14 days following exposure, with most cases occurring approximately five days after exposure.”
Like other colds, in children this virus is likely to cause cold symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, and cough. This virus may also cause a low fever. Just like the common cold, there is no treatment such as an antibiotic to speed the resolution of symptoms. The typical cough/cold recommendations will be useful with this virus as well, such as offering honey for those over 1 with cough, providing lots of fluid and rest, and using humidified air, saline, and nose suctioning for babies.
There is no in-office test available at this time. There are test kits provided by the state that are available in the ER and hospital setting when patients meet certain criteria. Remember, even if a child is tested and has confirmed COVID-19, there is no treatment and the illness in children is predicted to be mild.
Flu prevention techniques are already in use and these techniques are effective in decreasing the risk of Coronavirus. These techniques include washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, covering coughs and sneezes, and discarding tissues immediately in trash bins. Another way to prevent contracting the virus would be stay out of emergency rooms and health-care offices unless symptoms are severe. For those with cold symptoms, without trouble breathing or fever, we recommend calling the office for concerns, rather than scheduling an appointment. Because influenza causes more severe illness in kids than it appears will be caused by COVID-19, please, please, please get your flu shot if you haven’t already!