Doctors seeing increased cases of long Covid in children

NOW: Doctors seeing increased cases of long Covid in children

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) - Long Covid cases in adults are no new discovery, but doctors say they’re seeing an increasing amount of long Covid cases in children. They worry the symptoms could result in consequences later on in life. This amid Wisconsin seeing more cases in kids under 18 than any other age groups in the past few weeks.

Doctors say there are many outbreaks being investigated, and the increase in COVID-19 cases in kids runs across the age spectrum, from babies through teenagers.

“Variants are more contagious in children and that’s one of the reasons for this increase in disease in children we think,” said Dr. Gregory DeMuri, pediatric infectious disease specialist at UW Health.

UW Health says nearly 470 outbreaks in educational settings are being investigated in the state. Doctors say kids are not getting infected in schools, but more so in social situations. Meanwhile, Milwaukee health officials say they are seeing a pattern of case increases in the community, and want adults to get the vaccine.

“Most of the outbreaks that occur are coming from outside of the school,” adds Dr. DeMuri. “So they’re coming from the community.”

“It’s a slow, steady increase, I’m really hopeful that that’s going to turn around and we’re trying to really incentivize and encourage people to be vaccinated,” says Kirsten Johnson, Milwaukee health commissioner.

The Journal of the American Medical Association says more than 30-percent of kids hospitalized with COVID-19 required intensive care.

“That is alarming,” Dr. DeMuri said. “Most of those children are suffering one of the post-infectious or longer-term consequences.”

Kids can develop an inflammatory syndrome called MIS-C or even have long Covid symptoms months after infection. Pediatric doctors at UW Health say they’re seeing an increased number of kids seeking help with long Covid, and some do not have the energy they used to have.

“Lots of times this is affecting the lungs, less commonly the heart, but mostly the lungs and a lot of fatigue, body aches, those kinds of things,” Dr. DeMuri adds.

Dr. DeMuri says one of his concerns is whether long Covid would cause issues later on in life for kids. In the meantime, doctors are encouraging anyone 16 and older to get vaccinated and reduce social gatherings.

“I’m optimistic because children are resilient and they tend to recover from these things, but we don’t know, Covid’s only been with us for a little over a year,” he says.

“Talk to your colleagues, talk to your family members who had COVID-19, and ask them what their experiences were, how many days of work they missed, what sort of symptoms they still have lingering, and then you have to weigh those two and decide which is the greater risk, which is the greater benefit,” said Dr. Ben Weston, associate professor at Medical College of Wisconsin and medical director for Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

If we already saw the peak for child cases, Dr. DeMuri says hospital increases may come later on, because children typically don’t come in with COVID-19 issues until four to six weeks after infection.

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