Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) update from The Pediatric Clinic:
We have been monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak that has been spreading throughout the world over the past few months. While there has been a lot of media attention regarding this outbreak, we want to first of all urge our patients and families to try and remain calm! We are still learning about this particular strain of virus, but as of right now, studies appear to be showing that it is generally not serious in children or young adults. During this time, in order to protect our patients and staff while still caring for patients who need to be seen, we are changing our clinic policy to the following: if your child is sick, please do not bring other children to the clinic who do not have an appointment, and please limit the number of adults accompanying the child to just one; any additional family members will be asked to wait in their car. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions as well as links to helpful resources.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can infect humans and animals. There are different strains of coronavirus, some of which are very common and cause what we consider the common cold. Other common viral causes of cold symptoms include rhinovirus, enterovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and influenza (flu). COVID-19 is a novel strain of coronavirus that was first reported in December 2019 in China. It has since spread to other countries including Italy, Iran, Japan, South Korea, and now the United States. As of March 12th, the majority of cases in the US have been in Washington, California, and New York. There are currently six presumptive positive cases in Arkansas.
How is it spread?
The virus appears to be spread from person to person. It can spread between people who are in close contact with one another (about 6 feet), or from respiratory droplets of an infected person. When an infected person sneezes or coughs, respiratory droplets can potentially land into the mouth or nose of a nearby person and be inhaled into the lungs. It may also be possible for the virus to be spread from a contaminated surface, such as touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose, however this is not the most likely way to catch it. People are most likely to be contagious when their symptoms are at their worst, but it may be possible to be contagious even before showing any symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. The most common symptoms include fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. The symptoms usually appear 2-14 days after exposure. The symptoms may resemble the flu, but often there's no runny nose with it. In severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia. Most deaths have occurred in older patients with health problems including heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, or a compromised immune system.
How is it treated?
There is no cure for COVID-19 at this time. Treatment is supportive including maintaining hydration and fever control. Severe cases may require hospitalization, IV fluids, and respiratory support such as oxygen or mechanical ventilation.
How can I protect myself and others?
WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN! It's best to use soap and warm water and wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds (singing the Happy Birthday song twice is roughly that long). If using hand sanitizer, look for one that is 60% or higher alcohol based. Teach your children to cough and sneeze into their armpit rather than their hand, and to avoid touching their face, eyes and mouth. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces frequently. Avoid being around people who are sick, and traveling to areas with a high incidence of illness (see CDC website for high risk areas). If you or your children are sick, avoid going to school, work, and other public places to help prevent the spread of illness.
What do I do if I think my child has COVID-19?
Please do not bring your child into clinic. Bringing your child in might expose others to the disease, and there is no outpatient treatment for the virus other than fever control and pushing fluids which you can do at home. You may call our clinic with questions at 501-758-1530. Please be advised that we are experiencing a high volume of calls at this time, so we may not be able to get back to you immediately. If they have fever and respiratory symptoms AND have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or have traveled to a high risk area, then they likely will need to be tested. We are advising these patients to go to the Arkansas Department of Health for testing. You should call them first at 501-537-8969 during normal business hours and at 1-800-554-5738 after hours and on weekends to determine if testing is needed . If your child is severely ill such as showing signs of dehydration or respiratory distress, they should be evaluated at Arkansas Children's Hospital Emergency Department. Please advise the ER immediately upon arrival that you're concerned about possible COVID-19 so they can use protective measures to help prevent exposure to other patients and healthcare workers.
For more information:
You can call 1-800-743-3616 to speak with a pediatric nurse at ACH with questions or concerns 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You can also visit UAMSHealth.com/HealthNow to use a free screening tool for symptoms.