COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that is caused by a virus of the coronavirus family. Other kinds of viruses from this coronavirus family have long been known to cause illnesses such as the common cold.
COVID-19 is a new disease and its symptoms can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms of this disease are cough, fever, and shortness of breath.
This novel virus was discovered in December 2019 and is quickly spreading around the world. Information about this disease is constantly changing as researchers and doctors learn more about it every day.
How serious is COVID-19?
COVID-19 does not affect everyone in the same way. Since the disease is so new, there is limited information to help us predict how it will affect people. So far we know that some people can have mild symptoms, while others get very ill and need to be admitted to the hospital. Many people have died of COVID-19.
Who is at the most risk of COVID19?
Current data from the CDC show that children do not seem at higher than normal risk of COVID-19.
- Adults over 65 years old
- People who live in a nursing home or a long-term care facility
- People of all ages who have serious medical conditions that increase their risk, including
- Diabetes (especially if poorly controlled)
- High blood pressure (especially if poorly controlled)
- Kidney diseases on dialysis
- Severe obesity (BMI above 40)
- Liver disease
- Immune system suppression, including
- People who receive cancer treatment
- Poorly controlled HIV and AIDS
- Cigarette smoking
- Organ or bone marrow transplant recipients
Is COVID-19 milder in children than in adults?
The symptoms mentioned above of cough, fever, shortness of breath as the hallmark of COVID-19 can be seen in children as well. However, early research suggests that these symptoms occur less often in children than in adults. This is why you may have heard that a child may have COVID-19 and have very little symptoms, but if they pass on the virus to an adult, the adult is more likely to have more severe disease.
Also, fewer children than adults have needed to be admitted to the hospital due to COVID-19. Severe disease is possible is children, mostly in infants (under age 1).
How to protect your family from COVID-19
There is no vaccine available yet for COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
This virus is spread mainly from person to person. Some studies suggest that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. That means that the fact that someone feels okay and looks fine does not mean that it is safe to let our guards down.
- Clean hands often – use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important if you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Practice social distancing – Reduce or if possible avoid contact with others. Stay home. Avoid groups. If you need to go out to an essential errand like grocery shopping, keep your distance from others and wear a face mask.
- Cover your face if you must go out – If you don’t have a facemask available, you can use a homemade cloth face covering. If anyone who must go out to the store covers their nose and mouth, it can help slow the spread of the virus by people who have it but don’t know if because they feel well.
- Teach children to sneeze and cough into disposable tissues – and throw them away correctly every time. Also: teach them to wash their hands thoroughly every time they cough or sneeze or blow their nose.
- Disinfect your home – continue your household cleaning and disinfection routine as usual. Read more about disinfection from the AAP.
- Avoid touching your face – and teach your children to do the same!
If your child has been exposed to COVID-19, or they have symptoms that otherwise concern you, call your child’s pediatrician.