COVID-19 in children could be confused with flu, allergies

COVID-19 in children could be confused with flu, allergies

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As the number of COVID-19 cases in adults continues to surge, doctors have also seen an increase in children testing positive for the virus.

Dr. Kristina Bryant, an infectious disease specialist at Norton Children’s Hospital, said an increase in testing has had some impact on the rising number of cases, but it is not the only reason.

In March, Norton tested 120 children for COVID-19 and found seven positive cases, bringing the positivity rate to 5.8%. Seven months later in October, Norton tested 4,256 pediatric patients, and 377 of them had positive results, pushing the positivity rate to 8.9%. Then, during the first week of November, 152 positive pediatric cases were reported, bumping the positivity rate up even higher to 11.2%.

“Just like we’re seeing more adults in the community, and we are definitely seeing a sharp uptick in cases, we are seeing more cases in kids, and I think that’s due to human behavior.”

Dr. Bryant told WAVE 3 News the case increase in children is mainly due to people gathering in large groups, not wearing masks and not staying home when they are sick.

“I’ve had three families tell me over the last few days that their child was exposed to COVID-19 at school, daycare; on a sports team because another person who was sick attended school, or daycare or the sporting event. Some of them were being tested for COVID,” Bryant said.

However, many parents may not be aware their child has COVID-19 because symptoms can be mild.

“COVID-19 in children looks like just about every other virus. It can look like flu; it can look like RSV. In fact, it can sometimes look like allergies, the symptoms are so mild,” Bryant said.

Bryant told WAVE 3 News half of her pediatric patients who have the coronavirus don’t have a fever. Many will have a simple stuffy nose or cough, and some have gastrointestinal symptoms.

She added that oftentimes at least one other household member will also be infected with the virus when a child tests positive. Bryant said it is difficult to determine who infected whom, however, a recent CDC study shows children can spread the virus just as easily as adults.

Bryant said if your child is not feeling well, it is important to keep them home, wait a day or two to see if symptoms improve, and do not hesitate to call your pediatrician with any questions.

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