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Springfield Mercy treating infant with COVID-19; what to watch for with your young child

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 5:52 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - As of Thursday, June 24 CoxHealth in Springfield reported 96 cases of COVID-19 being treated at its hospital while Mercy reported 97 plus four in Lebanon and Aurora as well as one in Mtn. View.

As proof that the illness is continuing to skew to a younger demographic, stats provided by the Springfield-Greene County Health Department showed that from about mid-May to mid-June, cases among those below age 18 rose from 42 to 122.

“We have seen a decline in the average age of cases,” said Dr. Nancy Yoon, the Chief Medical Officer with the Springfield-Greene Co. Health Department. “Younger people are getting infected and that’s probably because the older people, those over 65, a large percentage of them have been vaccinated.”

While the confirmed cases in Missouri is now led by the 18-24 age group, there are examples of all age groups contracting COVID-19. A tweet by Mercy’s Chief Administrative Officer Erik Frederick this week said that the hospital was caring for a less-than-one-year-old infant with COVID-19.

“My prayers are with this little one,” Frederick said in the tweet. “I hope as a community we can start to see the reality of this virus. It does not discriminate. It doesn’t care what you think. Please retweet. Tell your neighbors. Tell everyone. Vaccinate.”

It certainly was a sobering reminder for parents with newborns.

“I don’t think they should be scared,” said Dr. Danyal Thaver, a Mercy Pediatric Critical Care Specialist, when asked his advice for anxious parents. “But at the same time I think they have to be vigilant enough to realize that COVID hasn’t gone away. Infants can get COVID and there have been cases of some dying from it. It’s rare, but it’s possible.”

Children accounted for only two percent of COVID-19 cases back at the start of the pandemic in March of 2020.

Now they represent 14 percent of the total cases.

“The kids who are at a higher risk to get severe symptoms are kids under the age of one,” Thaver explained. “Or kids who have underlying medical conditions. Kids who have asthma, diabetes, a congenital heart problem or any kind of condition that makes their immune systems weak.”

Thaver pointed out that other respiratory illnesses normally associated with the fall or winter months are going around now as well.

So what should you be watching for as signs of COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses in your infant?

“Trouble breathing or gasping for air,” Thaver said. “Not drinking or eating with a danger of getting dehydrated. A good way to assess that in infants is to see if they’re not making as many wet diapers as they normally would. Other things would be discoloration of the fingertips or nose or the lips. That can be a sign that they’re not getting enough oxygen. And if their brain is not getting enough oxygen they can be extremely irritable beyond being consolable. They may look confused or be extremely tired and not be able to be woke up. All those signs are concerning and that’s when parents should seek medical attention.”

And since no vaccinations are available for children under 12, the onus is on the rest of us to protect them.

“It’s definitely important that people who are around these kids should get the vaccine,” Thaver pointed out. “Because it’s not only going to protect them but also potentially (protect) that child who is more likely to get a severe illness if they catch COVID.”

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