How Will Corona Virus Affect My Child?
by Ren Chats
Infants and children all are at risk of Coronavirus infection. Yesterday, on the 11th March 2020, WHO declared it to be coronavirus pandemic. Schools are shut. Public gatherings are curtailed. Parents are anxious to know the risk for their children and how to care for them through the threat.
Understanding Corona virus
What people hear is loud media claims of how many are affected and how many succumbed to the coronavirus infection, which projects the virus as a deadly danger out of the bag. Several corona viruses have been circulating in the atmosphere all the time. They have off and on caused Flu like illness in humans, but only a mild one. Currently, however, we are witnessing a worldwide spread of a new corona virus, SARS-CoV-2
The new corona virus is a type of SARS virus; meaning it causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, therefore termed as SARS-CoV-2. It is believed to be an animal virus, but which animal source acts its reservoir is yet not known. Nor there is any evidence to show that companion animals or pets, such as cats and dogs, act as an intermediate species (referred to as a vector), to carry the disease-causing virus to their human companions, without themselves getting infected.
The first human to be infected by this virus was in China way back in 2002. Sporadic outbreaks have been noted ever since. Now, in December 2019 the number of cases in China significantly increased, and within 3 months almost the entire world is in the grip of the threatening coronavirus disease.
Person-to-person spread of SARS-CoV-2 has been quick and widespread, proving it to be highly infectious, much more than any of the SARS viruses discovered over the last two decades. Like any other viral infection, direct contact with the person suffering from the disease would escalate the chances of contracting the disease.
However, most often the disease spreads through droplets from a person who is not sick but is harboring the virus. For example, an incidental cough or sneeze, from an apparently healthy person, could spray tons of viruses in the atmosphere. The polluted air is breathed in by the bystanders. A few of the viruses in the nose and throat of people are let out in the air with each breath. The expelled viruses, that do not find their way into another person’s airway, settle on any surface they come in contact with. And later, with touch (hand to mouth) they find their way to people.
The dose of the virus and the resistance power of the person determines the chances of acquisition of the disease. People with compromised health are at higher risk of being infected and suffer from a more severe form of the disease. The good news is it is much less dangerous than the other SARS viruses, and the risk to children seems to be low.
Incubation period: the time taken by the virus to cause the disease
On average, clinical symptoms are seen on the fifth day after contracting the infection. But could be anywhere from 1 to 15 days. After 15 days it is very rare.
The course of coronavirus disease
As of today, understanding of the spectrum of illness is limited, more so that for child health. Generally, the clinical progression of SARS-CoV-2 is divided into three phases. Each phase lasts for about a week.
Phase one is the commonest and lasts for no more than a week. During this phase, the child suffers from fever with chills, dry cough, muscles pain, headache, and diarrhea. All symptoms do not occur in all patients. No individual symptom or cluster of symptoms has proved to be diagnostic of the disease. Nevertheless, Fever and body ache are the most common initial symptoms.
Whether the child will progress into the second stage of the disease or not depends on his resistant power and ability of the virus to multiply. The second stage is marked by running nose, throat pain, and rapid breathing. The blood count is usually normal.
Those who progress to the third stage are seriously ill. Some of them develop difficulty in breathing, and may even need breathing support. Therefore, if in the third stage of the disease, it is best to be cared for in a hospital.
Click here to read update on Vaccine and Treatment for Coronavirus
Currently, there is no specific treatment for coronavirus disease. Antibiotics do not work against viruses. Antiviral therapy does not help. The treatment is focused on providing rest, good nutrition, and enough fluids. The medicines given are only to relieve symptoms like pain, fever, etc. They thereby help sustain till the body defense system fights the invading virus away.
Isolation of the patient is an important facet of the treatment of coronavirus disease. Keeping away from people works two ways: It prevents the spread of infection and protects the patient from the invasion of another set of disease-causing organisms. During this phase of illness, the body's fighting force is nearly exhausted and would be unable to resist a new virus or bacteria.
Prevent the spread
1. Vaccine: Under process.
2. Avoid long-distance travel.
3. Avoid large gatherings.
4. Wash hands frequently; especially before eating and touching the face
5. Use a face mask (surgical mask) in public places.
6. Keep away from a suspected case of coronavirus infection.
7. Avoid unprotected contact with wild and farm animals.
8. Practice social distancing; for next few weeks avoid pubs and partying.
9. Don't panic. Contact your doctor if in doubt.
1. Chih-Cheng Lai, Tzu-Ping Shih, Wen-Chien Ko, et al. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19): The epidemic and the challenges. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, Volume 55, Issue 3, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.105924.
2. Lauer SA, Grantz KH, Bi Q, et al. The Incubation Period of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) From Publicly Reported Confirmed Cases: Estimation and Application. Ann Intern Med. 2020; Epub ahead of print 10 March 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.7326/M20-0504
3. Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19); 9 March 2020, WHO