Jessica Renteria pushes a stroller with her two children to the Los Angeles Zoo, which is reopening in Los Angeles, California on August 26, 2020, after it closed on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic. – As the zoo reopens, online reservations, limited capacity, required face covers and improved cleaning practices for high contact surfaces and toilets will be made in accordance with many social distancing guidelines.
Frederic J. Brown | AFP via Getty Images
Children infected with Covid-19 can shed the virus for weeks even if their symptoms are clear or if they never develop symptoms. This is according to a new study published on Friday in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics.
The researchers followed 91 children with Covid-19 from February 18 to March 31 in 22 hospitals in South Korea, one of the earliest countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
About 22% of children younger than 19 years old were asymptomatic, which means that they never developed symptoms. The remaining children had symptoms that were noted before or shortly after their diagnosis. The duration of symptoms varied, with some children showing symptoms for only three days while others had symptoms for almost three weeks, according to the study.
Overall, the researchers said the virus was detectable in children's airways for an average of about 2½ weeks.
The researchers found that nearly half of the children who were symptomatic and a fifth of the asymptomatic children still shed after the three-week test. They said the duration that the asymptomatic children shed could have been even longer since the true date of their infection is unknown.
"This is remarkable data," said Dr. Roberta DeBiasi and Meghan Delane of the National Children's Hospital and Research Institute wrote in an editorial that was published alongside the study. You weren't involved in the research.
"These findings are of great importance in developing public health strategies to contain and curb the spread within communities, particularly as affected communities begin their recovery periods," she said, adding that the role of children in spreading the disease Disease needs further investigation.
It remains unclear whether and for how long the children were contagious with the dandruff. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that Covid-19 patients can shed the virus for up to three months after being infected, "albeit in concentrations significantly lower than during the illness, in areas where the replication-competent virus has not been reliably restored and infectivity is unlikely. "
The study's authors noted that their research was limited. They could not analyze how contagious the children could have been due to the strict quarantine measures in South Korea. According to South Korean rules, patients with Covid-19 must stay in the hospital until they clear their infections.
STAT News reported on a study in March that found that mildly ill people may cease to be infectious after 10 days from the onset of symptoms.
Friday's study comes as public health officials and infectious disease experts say it remains unclear what role children play in the spread of the coronavirus. Schools in the US and other parts of the world are considering whether it is safe to reopen as the virus continues to spread rapidly.
At the beginning of the outbreak, researchers said the virus appeared to be gentle on children, while it was particularly severe in the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.
However, they later found that the apparent shortage of children in confirmed coronavirus cases could also be because children become infected but develop milder symptoms that are not reported.
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics in April found that many children infected with the coronavirus develop only mild symptoms and typically recover within two weeks. The researchers analyzed 1,065 Covid-19 patients, mostly in China, under the age of 19.
Another report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the majority of pediatric patients in the United States developed only mild symptoms, such as fever or cough.
While many children may only get mild or moderate illness with the virus, some children are still at risk of developing serious or even life-threatening illness.
For example, some children in children develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, a rare inflammatory disease that is similar to Kawasaki syndrome. While health officials are still learning how Covid-19 is related to the disease, serious complications such as heart dysfunction, shock and kidney injuries can occur in children, according to the CDC.