Fort Worth, Texas,
11:26 AM

Why Is My Child Sick During the Quarantine?

Being a pediatrician during the novel coronavirus pandemic has been interesting, to say the least. I miss my old care-free life, just like you. I miss seeing friends and giving hugs. I miss my patients.

One thing that thankfully keeps me connected with my patients is technology – I’m still doing plenty of daily video visits on MyChart. I’m actually really surprised how many emails I’ve been getting about kids getting sick.

You’d think with everyone locked in their house, this wouldn’t be happening, right?

Fevers, sore throats, runny noses, rashes, coughs – yes, some of this might be community coronavirus infection and yes, I understand freaking out right now if your child has any of these symptoms. Just remember, kids are known to mostly get mild cases.

I’m willing to bet a lot of it is just the same stuff we see all the time in the Spring: colds, allergies, strep throat, poison ivy, Hand Foot and Mouth, pinkeye, tummy bugs, etc. But how are they getting it?

I guess one of the only good things about the coronavirus pandemic is people are learning more and more about how viruses (and bacteria, and other germs) work.

My theories about why kids are getting sick during quarantine:

  • Asymptomatic carrier - Sometimes a person has a virus or bacteria inside them, and for some reason, they show no signs or symptoms of it. Let’s say Dad is an essential worker and still goes to the office or warehouse. He touches a door handle that his co-worker touched. He rubbed his eye after. Let’s say it’s a cold virus. Dad then brings home a cold virus in his body – he may show absolutely zero symptoms of it – and after a week of snuggles with his son, now his son has a fever and a runny nose! What gives? Well – an asymptomatic carrier brought it home. (This is how coronavirus sometimes works too, FYI).
  • Allergies are a huge culprit of many of the same symptoms we associate with illness. Sore throats, cough, fatigue, runny nose – it’s easy to confuse a respiratory infection with allergies.
  • Viruses and bacteria have incubation periods – sometimes even up to two weeks. Meaning, you caught that germ, but it isn’t showing itself until now. Sometimes, this can really mislead folks in understanding when their child actually caught an illness (it may have been that picnic you went to with friends before the lockdown started).
  • Kids put everything in their mouths. Read it again: kids put everything in their mouths. And if you’ve come home from the grocery store with their favorite snack, and didn’t wipe it down, there’s a small chance your kid can catch it from the item. Cardboard, metal, and plastic are all known to harbor germs – sometimes for days. Coronavirus may not be able to live on those surfaces very long, but other more robust ones may thrive on the surface!

A bit of good news we may have missed while being quarantined: The flu is nearly gone now!

I know it’s difficult right now, but try not to grow complacent – stay at home, limit your visits to the store, and wash your hands a ton. We think social distancing is working – but need more time to tell.

In the meantime, try not to worry about mild illness your kids may have. Remember we Cook Children’s pediatricians are still here for you! And are always happy to help you anytime.

Get to know Diane Arnaout, M.D., a Cook Children's pediatrician at Forest Park

"I didn’t realize how important the job of the pediatrician was until I had kids of my own. My education, experience in medicine, and cocky attitude made me feel like I knew it all before my first one came around. He proceeded to make me very aware of how little I actually knew.

Thankfully he survived, as did the next one, and they’ve helped me to grow and to help YOU, the parent, in so many ways. Sure I’m here to make sure your kids are healthy and happy at all ages. But I’m also here to make sure you’re educated, to make sure your family is thriving, and to make you feel confident in caring for your kids. From diaper rashes to sleep problems to school difficulties - I’m here to help.

I write a lot about common problems and ailments online – you can find me busy on Facebook and Instagram, and I write articles for the Cook Children’s Checkup Newsroom blog. A lot of stuff you’ll hear me say in the office will be typed out on there, too. And we’re in a day and age where the internet helps make connections – you can connect with me on there, or e-mail me anytime.

It takes a village to raise a child – and I’m so grateful to be a part of yours. And as Master Yoda teaches us – “Always pass on what you have learned.” I fully plan to!"

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Arnaout, click here.

Comments 1 - 2 (2)
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Jesse Morales
Thank you so much for this informative information. It brought me comfort at the right time.
LeDawn Liles
Super thankful for Cook Childrens and what they mean to our family!