Covid-19 positive children show same symptoms as seasonal influenza: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on September 09, 2020

‘It’s a good cue from a prevention and planning perspective’

According to a study published in the journal JAMA Network, Covid-19 positive children tend to demonstrate the same symptoms as seasonal flu.

Researchers at Children's National Hospital carried out a retrospective cohort study of patients in the two groups.

The study was titled ‘Comparison of Clinical Features of US Children With Covid-19 vs Seasonal Influenza A and B’. It showed that there are no statistically significant differences in the rates of hospitalisation, admission to the intensive care unit, and mechanical ventilator use between the two groups.

Xiaoyan Song, principal investigator of the study, said the unexpected finding was that more patients with Covid-19 reported symptoms of fever, cough, diarrhoea, vomiting, headache, bodyache, or chest pain at the time of diagnosis, compared with patients suffering from seasonal influenza.

Dr. Song, Director of Infection Control and Epidemiology at Children’s National and a professor of paediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said in a statement: “I didn’t see this coming when I was thinking about doing the study.”

He added: “It took several rounds of thinking and combing through the data to convince myself that this was the conclusion.”

“It’s a good cue from a prevention and planning perspective. We always emphasise early recognition and early isolation with Covid-19. Having a clinical picture in mind will assist clinicians as they diagnose patients with symptoms of the coronavirus," Song added.

For the study, researchers examined 315 children who were diagnosed with a laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 between March 25 and May 15, 2020.

They also examined 1,402 children who were diagnosed with laboratory-confirmed seasonal influenza between October 1, 2019 and June 6, 2020, at Children’s National.

Of the 315 patients who tested positive for Covid-19, 52 per cent were male, with a median age of 8.4 years. Of these patients, 54 (17.1 per cent) were hospitalised, including 18 (5.7 per cent) who were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and 10 (3.2 per cent) who received mechanical ventilator treatment.

Among the 1,402 patients who tested positive for influenza A or B, 52 per cent were male, with a median age of 3.9 years, and 291 (21.2 per cent) were hospitalised, including 143 for influenza A and 148 for influenza B. Ninety-eight patients (7 per cent) were admitted to the ICU, and 27 (1.9 per cent) received mechanical ventilator support.

The study showed a slight difference in the age of children hospitalised with Covid-19 compared to those hospitalised with seasonal influenza.

In both groups, fever was the most often reported symptom at the time of diagnosis followed by cough.

The rate of hospitalisation in Covid-19 was greater than seasonal influenza. Hospitalised children reported fever (76 per cent vs 55 per cent), cough (48 per cent vs 31 per cent), diarrhoea or vomiting (26 per cent vs 12 per cent), headache (11 per cent vs 3 per cent), bodyache/myalgia (22 per cent vs 7 per cent), and chest pain (11 per cent vs 3 per cent).

Published on September 09, 2020

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