March 16, 2020
Thank you for contacting us regarding the potential impact of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on your child and family. Please know that care providers at the UF Health Pediatric Pulmonary Diagnostic Center are participating in strategy meetings daily and incorporating input from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local authorities into our care. We share your concerns, and we want to do the best to help keep you and your child healthy.
Here are some critical things you should know:
- COVID-19 is spread via aerosol, which means particles can be inhaled from the air when a patient coughs or sneezes. It is also in body fluids (such as nasal mucus), so it can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces.
- There have been minimum cases in children despite known infections and probably transmission through children. Of those testing positive, only about 2% are teens and children, with the vast majority being 30-80 year olds. This means that younger ages are probably less likely to have a severe infection.
- Individuals with lung disease, immunosuppressed or neuromuscular disease are not more likely to contract COVID-19; however, they are at greater risk for complications such as pneumonia. This is true for any respiratory virus.
- There is no medication to treat or prevent COVID-19 infection, though medications to treat symptoms of fever, cough or congestion may be recommended.
- If your child does need to be seen here at the UF Health Pediatric Pulmonary Diagnostic Center, please be aware that the hospital is taking extra precautions to keep anyone who has the potential to be infected with COVID-19 far away from other patients. This includes isolation precautions beyond the usual gowns and masks and localization of patients in separate areas. During this time, we are also looking at performing routine/non-urgent clinic visits via telemedicine platform that would allow us to do the visit from our office to your home. At this time, we are still holding patient appointments if this is not an option for you.
- If your child’s pulmonologist has prescribed daily medications (such as a steroid inhaler) or treatments (such as airway clearance) to keep your child’s lungs healthy, now is the time to be sure they are getting done. There is no need to increase the frequency of baseline medications or airway clearance as prevention. If your child develops respiratory symptoms, please start any “sick plan” medications and/or treatments and give us a call.
Our usual recommendations for avoiding viral infections hold true, with increased diligence recommended:
- Keep yourself and your child away from individuals who have a known viral infection or pneumonia or are symptomatic with fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.
- Do not go to school or work if you have above symptoms.
- Avoid touching your face, nose and mouth unnecessarily. Clean hands before/after when able.
- Avoid spaces that are tightly crowded with unknown individuals if possible.
- Wash hands or use alcohol-based sanitizer frequently. Likewise, clean common area surfaces (such as desktops) with alcohol or bleach based disinfectant, and avoid sharing items (especially eating utensils).
The virus particle is very small, so the majority of surgical/hospital masks available for purchase do not protect a person from becoming infected or transmitting the virus. At this time, we are not recommending that children or parents wear masks for prevention; however, caregivers who have any symptoms of fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat should wear a mask to protect their child if avoidance is not an option.
The CDC has recommended no large group gatherings (i.e. group meetings, sports activities, etc.) and travel restrictions in high-risk countries. Visit CDC.gov for more information and recommendations.
At this time, Alachua County schools are closed through March 30, and other schools throughout the nation are closed, as well. For helpful resources on school closures and other important information associated with COVID-19, please visit peds.ufl.edu.
The health of your child is of utmost concern for us.
Your UF Health Pediatric Pulmonary Team
Cystic Fibrosis Center
During this challenging time, we want you to know that the entire CF team continues working to provide quality care for our CF patients and families. Please read our latest CF Connection Newsletter for more information on COVID-19.