posted: Mar. 11, 2020.
How Amherst Pediatrics is responding
Amherst Pediatrics is taking the new coronavirus threat seriously. We are working closely with local health officials and hospitals to put in place mechanisms to keep our community as safe as possible.
Because the most effective approach to containing the spread of this virus is through aggressive personal hygiene and isolation, we ask that you not to come to our office without first calling. We are screening calls for risk factors and will make recommendations based on those responses.
As much as we can, we would also like to put the issue into appropriate perspective for our Amherst Pediatrics community.
What is COVID-19
Coronaviruses are not new, but COVID-19 is. It is a virus that likely began in China as an animal virus, and then became suddenly capable of infecting humans. Because of how readily viruses can spread from person to person, and because no one has ever been exposed to this virus and thus has any immunity to it, we are all susceptible. However, as we learn more about this virus and how it spreads and infects people, we are finding that there are some reassuring aspects to this global pandemic.
COVID-19 in children
COVID-19 impacts older individuals (particularly those over 70 years of age) and those with underlying heath conditions (such as chronic lung dissease like as COPD, heart disease, and immunodeficiency) much more than it does younger, healthier populations. It is relatively uncommon in children, and infected children appear to have much less severe infection overall, with significantly less risk of complications. Nevertheless, any infected person can spread the disease to several others, potentially infecting people who are at higher risk of severe illness and complications.
How contagious is COVID-19?
This virus appears to be slightly more contagious than influenza, and is likely spread via both airborne droplet as well as hand-to-mouth behavior. For this reason, and because we can all unknowingly spread infection to others, it is extremely important to follow good hand-washing practices (see below).
How serious is COVID-19?
This is a serious pandemic, and infection with this virus can produce severe illness in some people. As mentioned above, however, most people are at low risk for serious illness. As we learn more about the prevalence of the disease and how many mild and asymptomatic cases there are, the case fatality rate will likely become lower than it now appears to be.
What to do if you or your child is ill
Please call us right away if you or your child has fever and a cough or difficulty breathing, or if you have known exposure to someone with COVID-19 infection.
We cannot stress enough the importance of frequent hand-washing, and staying away from others as much as possible when you are sick yourself - and please remember to get an annual flu vaccine. Your child is hearing about this virus from many sources, some of which may not be reliable.
This is a confusing and alarming time for everone, and children in particualar are likely to have concerns that need to be addressed. The following are good resourcees for talking to your children about the new coronavirus:
Here are some useful places to get additional information about COVID-19, and how you can keep your family and community as safe as possible: