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Coronavirus (COVID-19)


What Is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

At the end of 2019, a new type of coronavirus began making people sick with flu-like symptoms. The illness is called coronavirus disease-19 — COVID-19, for short. The virus spreads easily and has affected people all over the world.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 can cause a fever, cough, and trouble breathing. Some people might have:

  • symptoms of a cold such as a sore throat, congestion, or a runny nose
  • chills
  • muscle pain
  • headache
  • a loss of taste or smell
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • tiredness

The virus can be more serious in some people. And some people have no symptoms at all.

Some kids are having symptoms caused by inflammation throughout the body, sometimes several weeks after they were infected with the virus. This is called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Doctors are trying to find out how these symptoms are related to coronavirus infection.

Symptoms seen in kids have included:

  • fever 
  • belly pain
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • a rash
  • neck pain
  • red eyes
  • red, cracked lips
  • swollen hands or feet

How Does Coronavirus (COVID-19) Spread?

People can catch coronavirus from others who are infected even if they don't have any symptoms. This happens when an infected person breathes, talks, sneezes, or coughs, sending tiny droplets into the air. These can land in the nose, mouth, or eyes of someone nearby, or be breathed in. Some of the tiniest droplets, called aerosols, can linger in the air for minutes to hours and travel on air currents. But it seems that the risk of spread is highest when people are less than 6 feet apart.

People also might get infected if they touch an infected droplet on a surface and then touch their own nose, mouth, or eyes.

Experts are looking at whether the virus can spread through stool (poop).

Is Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dangerous to Children?

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. Far fewer cases have been reported in children. Usually, the virus seems to cause a milder infection in children than in adults or older people.

But in some cases of the inflammatory syndrome called MIS-C, kids developed more serious symptoms, sometimes several weeks after being infected with the virus. Most kids with MIS-C get better after they get special care in the hospital, sometimes in the ICU (intensive care unit).

Call your doctor if your child has symptoms of COVID-19 or MIS-C, or just isn't feeling well. Tell the doctor if your child has been near someone with COVID-19, or lived in or traveled to an area where lots of people have the coronavirus.

Get care right away if your child:

  • has trouble breathing
  • has severe belly pain
  • has pain or pressure in the chest
  • is confused or not making sense
  • is having trouble staying awake
  • looks bluish in the lips or face

These symptoms can be warning signs of serious illness.

How Is Coronavirus (COVID-19) Treated?

Doctors and researchers are working on medicines and a vaccine for coronavirus. Most people with the illness, including children, get better with rest, fluids, and fever-reducing medicine. Some people get very ill and need treatment in the hospital.

How Can I Protect Myself From Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

To protect yourself and your family:

  • Avoid large crowds and busy places.
  • Stay at least 6 feet from people you don't live with. COVID-19 can spread before a person has symptoms and even when someone has no symptoms.
  • When you go out, adults and kids over 2 years old should wear a mask or cloth face covering to help slow the spread of the virus. To see how to put on and remove masks, clean them, or make your own cloth mask, check the CDC's guide.
  • Wash your hands well and often. Wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Teach your kids to do the same.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Use a household cleaner or wipe to clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that people touch a lot (like doorknobs, cellphones, and counters).
  • Keep informed about the spread of coronavirus in your community. You can find this on your local department of health website.
  • Follow recommendations from your local health authority, especially if many people have coronavirus in your area.
  • Make sure your children have all their vaccinations. Protect them against illnesses like measles and the flu. Kids who have another infection may have a harder time getting better if they do get COVID-19.

Experts around the world are studying and tracking COVID-19 and are learning how to keep it from spreading further.

Where Can I Learn More About Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites for up-to-date, reliable information about coronavirus.

Date reviewed: October 2020