As more cases of the Coronavirus are documented across the U.S. and around the globe, parents are becoming more and more concerned about the health of their children.
KSBY spoke with Dr. Mohammad Tabek Bakir, MD., a Lompoc pediatrician, about those concerns and risks to children.
Have you/the clinic been hearing from a lot of parents concerned or who have questions about the latest Coronavirus?
"There are some concerns on how to protect their children, how to go about their daily lives."
What’s the most important thing for parents to know about COVID-19?
"It is similar, the transmission, just like any respiratory virus, just like the flu, just like common cold. The symptoms that come out are usually harder and harsher than the flu, so you'll usually have a fever, shortness of breath if you have the Corona. It's usually going to be through someone who traveled, someone who had a contact with a traveler, someone who got sick, also contact with that person."
Is it having much of an impact on children?
"This is a difficult question to answer because it doesn't discriminate. If the kid is going to be sick, the kid is going to be sick. Again, the main important point for this is you have to have a contact with someone who traveled outside the U.S. or somewhere with a high infectious rate. If your kid is coughing and has a fever, doesn't mean your kid has the Coronavirus. It seems to attack people on the higher end of the spectrum where you're immune compromised in a way. So if you have immune issues, it will hit you harder. Some people who are getting the Coronavirus aren't showing the harsh symptoms, the severe respiratory symptoms. It's mild symptoms like cold or flu. If you have other medical issues, it's hitting you harder. Usually if you have older age, co-morbidity, it's going to hit you harder."
This is just a new strain of Coronavirus. How does it differ from other Coronaviruses children may get?
"It is a new strain of the Coronavirus, this is part of the severe respiratory Coronavirus, similar to the SARS we had a few years back. We do have our own strain of the Coronavirus that usually causes similar symptoms to common cold. We do have Coronavirus in the U.S., just milder and we've always had it. The new one is harder, more severe."
What are some symptoms to look out for or when should parents get concerned/consider getting their child tested?
"The common symptoms the Coronavirus has is cough, fever, and shortness of breath. You should be concerned about corona infection if there's a contact with someone who traveled outside the U.S. within the last two weeks or the family traveled outside the U.S."
Travel. What precautions should parents take when flying with their children? Should they fly or stay home?
"Use common sense. If you're feeling healthy, travel, do your daily things. There's no reason to panic regarding that matter, if you're not feeling healthy, stay home. Wash your hands, clean your counters, don't rub your eyes. If you see someone sneezing or coughing, keep your distance from them."
Thoughts on masks for children? Recommended for travel or anything else related to COVID-19?
"If you are healthy, don't have any symptoms, masks aren't necessary. Masks are to protect you from someone who is coughing if you're sick, wearing the mask if you're not sick, you don't need it because it's not protective."
Any thoughts on Disnleyland or other amusement parks/places where thousands of people gather?
"If you're feeling healthy you should go. Do your daily things. We're not at a point where we're at an epidemic or pandemic."
Many parents are very worried about COVID-19. What do you say to them to help ease their fears?
"Treat it like you're treating the flu. Be cautious. (Be mindful of) hand hygiene, bathroom hygiene. If your kid is sick, call your professional pediatrician, get their opinion, we're here to help. Stay away from Google sites. If you want to consult or look into things, look for CDC sites, world health organizations, don't look at Facebook, that will just increase panic."
Any other important things for parents to know?
"If the kid has asthma, lung disease, heart disease, anything that might be complicated by any attack on the respiratory system, it will cause more complications."