Teens who become infected with Covid-19 usually do not get as sick as adults and often have few or no symptoms. However, you can spread the novel coronavirus that causes the disease to others.
Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the health departments of four states – Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island – described a 13-year-old girl who contracted the coronavirus just before a three-week family reunion. Eleven other relatives, including her mother, father, two brothers and two grandparents, were also infected.
"This outbreak highlights several important issues," the authors wrote, led by Dr. Noah G. Schwartz from the C.D.C. in the article published on Monday. "First, children and adolescents can serve as a source of Covid-19 outbreaks in families, even if their symptoms are mild."
The finding presented in the weekly report on morbidity and mortality of C.D.C. was published, could also agree with claims that teenagers are more likely to become infected and spread the virus than younger children.
"This doesn't necessarily mean that all 13-year-olds can cause such outbreaks," said William Hanage, professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health which was not involved in the research. "But it means some 13-year-olds can."
The potential for children to transmit the disease is "pretty well established by now," said Dr. Hanage.
In the new case report, the girl was exposed to the coronavirus from home in June, the authors reported. However, four days after exposure, a rapid antigen test gave a negative result. However, antigen tests for the coronavirus often produce erroneous results. Two days later, a blocked nose appeared, her only Covid-19 symptom.
On the same day, she, her parents, and two brothers traveled over the next three and a half weeks to meet 20 relatives. Fourteen of them lived in the five-bedroom, two-bathroom house for varying periods of time ranging from 8 to 25 days; They did not wear face masks and did not stay at least three feet apart. Six other relatives passed by for two days – one for 10 hours, the other for three hours – but kept a physical distance and stayed outdoors, even though they weren't wearing face masks either.
Of the 14 who lived in the house, 12, including the girl, contracted Covid-19 with symptoms appearing up to 18 days after the congregation started. Their ages ranged from 9 to 72 years. Not all of them were likely infected directly from the girl; The virus may have been spread by several people around the house.
One was hospitalized and another went to an emergency room because of breathing difficulties. Both recovered. No other cases were linked to the family reunion.
Two of the girls' cousins, 14 and 16 years old, did not contract the coronavirus. None of the day visitors who stayed outside of the house got sick.
"It reiterates the importance of basic public health precautions, even for people we know and love," said Dr. Megan L. Ranney, professor of emergency medicine at Brown University who was not involved in the study.
This includes avoiding spaces indoors where people are close together. "Staying outside is always safer, as the transmission rates in this study show," said Dr. Ranney.
Other recommendations from public health officials have also been shown to be of use: that physical distancing will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, that rapid antigen tests should be confirmed by more reliable polymerase chain reaction tests, and that someone exposed to the coronavirus is to remain isolated from others for 14 days.
“Physical distancing, face mask use, and hand hygiene reduce transmission. Gatherings should be avoided when physical distancing and face masks are not an option, ”the authors wrote.