We know that you have been bombarded with information about COVID-19, and we are sure that you have a lot of questions. We have attempted to answer some of your most frequently asked questions below.
Perhaps the most important question is:
What should I do if I think my child may have COVID-19?
Please CALL OUR OFFICE if your child has been exposed to someone with known or suspected COVID-19. DO NOT COME TO THE OFFICE WITHOUT FIRST DISCUSSING YOUR CONCERN WITH A STAFF MEMBER. Part of our job is to try and minimize the extent of spread by this virus, and we need your help to accomplish that. Depending on the specific details, we can help determine the best next steps for you and your child.
What is COVID-19?
This is a new strain of coronavirus that is currently circulating internationally. Coronaviruses have been around for a long time and almost all of us have had one at one time in our lives. Most of us have had several of them. Generally these viruses cause symptoms consistent with the common cold. These symptoms may include fever, stuffy/runny nose, cough, headache, sore throat, and body aches.
Why is this strain different?
Mostly because it is new – our immune systems have never encountered this specific strain and therefore are not as prepared to combat it. There are still a lot of unknowns about this virus and we are learning more about it every day. We know that in older people it is more prone to cause serious complications including pneumonia and respiratory distress. We also know that in children it generally causes only mild illness.
Why is the mortality rate so high?
The actual mortality rate is unknown, as we do not know the total number of infections, many of which may be mild. It is likely to have a similar mortality rate as Influenza. For example in South Korea where there is more widespread testing for this virus, the estimated mortality rate is approximately 0.7%. Just to offer some perspective – there have been 136 children who died from influenza so far this season in the US, and zero children who have died from COVID-19.
Can you test for COVID-19?
Yes there are a limited number of tests available through the CDC and through local public health departments. We currently have a rapid test that can be done in the office and a send out PCR test that can be done in the office and sent to the lab.
Is there a treatment for COVID-19?
Because it is a virus there is no antibiotic to treat COVID-19. The immune system will fight it off, and most children will recover completely within a week. You can treat your child’s symptoms with pain and fever reducers such as accetominophen or Ibuprofen (over 6 months old), rest, fluids, and nasal saline/suction. You always want to monitor your child for dehydration, difficulty breathing, or fever that does not respond appropriately to medications.
How is COVID-19 SPREAD?
The main way it is spread is by respiratory droplets. Usually one would need to be within 6 feet of an infected person for 15-20 minutes to risk infection.
How can I avoid COVID-19?
The best approach is good hand washing throughout the day, especially prior to eating. It’s always helpful to remind your child not to pick her nose and to sneeze/cough into his elbow. Of course we all know that kids tend to be little germ magnets, so just do the best you can.
Where can I get more information:
There is a lot of information out there – in general reputable resources include the CDC, the AAP (including their Healthy Children website), and the local health departments. Please call us if you have any additional questions or concerns.