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What should I do about Coronavirus to protect my child?

Coronavirus and your child, our patient…..

As we all learn about the spread of Coronavirus around the world and now here in the US, the pediatricians at APA would like you, the parents of our patients, to know we are here to answer questions you may have. Much news through the media makes this sound very scary and the situation is certainly still developing with new information coming out daily, if not hourly. We are watching and following along with you and want you to know that we are here, as always, to care for your children. There are several things we would like to emphasize:

First, DO NOT PANIC or even worry. Coronavirus strains are common causes of cold symptoms in many people every year. This strain, COVID-19 is a new strain in this family of viruses. Being a new strain means that the majority of people are susceptible to illness when exposed. However, it does not mean that those people are becoming severely ill. While there have been some deaths due to COVID-19, most are in immunocompromised or ill individuals.

This data comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Current mortality statistics based on best available prelim data:

   • average overall mortality rate 2.3%

   • history of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, or cancer  is 5-10%

   • no history of chronic disease <1%

   • overall men 2.8%

   • overall women 1.7%

By age:

      • over 80 years old 15%

      • 10-19 of age 0.0018%

      • 0-9 years of age ~0%

As you can see, our children are at very minimal risk. Most will have mild cold symptoms or flu symptoms if they contract this illness. There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Like other viruses that cause cold symptoms, it is normally a self-limiting infection that your child’s immune system will clear in about a week or so.

As with any virus, there can be complications such as ear infections, pneumonia and the like. Any time your child seems to worsen or have new symptoms, such as ear pain, heightened or prolonged fever, difficulty breathing, worsened cough, or shortness of breath, please come to the office to see us and have your child evaluated. This is not unique to COVID-19.

There is currently not easily available testing for COVID-19 and we do not have the capability to test in our office.

So, as we all wait to see how much impact this virus will have on our community, let’s do what we can to help decrease the transmission of COVID-19. Children are often an important source of transmitting viral infections to others, including older or ill family members.

The most effective way to do this is to follow common advice of:

-WASHING YOUR HANDS. Wash them often and well. Use soap and water and don’t be too quick. Sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘ABC’ song with your child twice while you clean their hands. When soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer – often.

-AVOID CLOSE CONTACT WITH THOSE WHO ARE ILL. Try to avoid being too close to those with acute signs of illness of any kind. If you are their caregiver, do the best you can and continue to wash your hands often.

-AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE. Infections can be transmitted when you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. Do your best to keep your hands away from your face.

-COVER YOUR COUGH AND SNEEZE. Viruses are usually transmitted when people who have the virus spread it through droplets. These droplets can be spread easily through coughing and sneezing. Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow will help decrease the spread.

-IF YOU ARE ILL, STAY HOME. Don’t go to work or send your child to school if you have symptoms of illness. The exact timing of exclusion for this virus is not yet known, so no specific recommendation can be made.

-COME TO SEE US IF SIGNS OF WORSENING ILLNESS. You know your child best. If she/he has cold symptoms, but is otherwise acting well and you have no concerns, you likely don’t need to have them evaluated. But if there is anything you are concerned about, such as a complication listed above, please don’t hesitate to bring them in to see us.

Overall, this illness is new to all of us. We will be keeping up with the latest information available and will continue to advise you all accordingly. While we want to take any illness seriously, we want to reassure you that we don’t feel alarmed about the severity of this illness in our pediatric patients. Please know we are here for you if you have any questions or concerns about your children. We are humbled to help care for them as always.

The physicians of APA