Many viruses, hardly any symptoms: What is the role of children in the Corona-Transfer play

Cough, fever, and plenty of snot – these are the classic symptoms of daycare children, if you are coming for the first time with viruses and bacilli in contact. The Coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 is different, at least according to official Figures. In Germany, children and young people provide for only three percent of all confirmed infections. You have Corona so apparently not only considerably less infections than adults. In General, the complaints are also mild.


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The infection figures are however to be interpreted with caution, precisely because children often have asymptomatic gradients, if they are infected with the Coronavirus. This could mean that you are less tested and in official statistics under-represented. Children who show no complaints, would not then be included simply in the statistics. Studies show that children infected just as effectively in the case of infected contact persons such as all of the other age groups. Also, the amount of Virus in the throat is about the similar size as in adults, showed a recent study by the Berlin-based virologist Christian Drosten. Alone: they are considerably less frequently.

Infectious viruses, but hardly any symptoms

Ulrike Protzer, Director of the Institute for Virology at the Technical University of Munich, may confirm this phenomenon from the practice, as revealed in a press conference of the “Science Media Center”. “Children can become infected. Children infectious Virus from getting a divorce. But: children are much less sick.”

Protzer took care of during the first Corona outbreak to an infected family from Traunstein, near Munich, – father, mother and three children. First of all, I plugged in the father with the Virus, then the eldest daughter, the mother finally, and the two-year-old child. Only the youngest child in the family – an infant, still breastfed – could not be proven that infection. May is the mother’s milk had a special protection.

However, the two older, demonstrably infected the children of the family were largely of complaints spared. “The two children had minor symptoms,” says Prancer. They developed, therefore, a slightly increased temperature up to 38 degrees Celsius, and digestive mild discomfort. In the nose and throat of children, the Doctors found infectious virus. The amount of Virus was relatively large. In the chair of the children’s virus RNA could be detected. But how slight complaints are then to explain where the Virus could proliferate effectively in the bodies of the children?

According to Prancer, there is still no evidence, but theories: One is based on a particular property of the immune system of children. Consequently, children have specific memory B-cells, which are more inclined to form a broad, effective anti-body. This was in the case of children is necessary, because you need to protect against many infections. In adults, this broad protection is lost, however, a piece of far. In adulthood, the immune response, the focus is rather on specific pathogens.

That children develop fewer symptoms than adults, is not a typical phenomenon of Sars-CoV-2. A similar pattern there are also, for example, the Epstein-Barr Virus, the pathogen of Pfeiffer’s glandular fever. “In the past, were infected, all in the first two years of life. Since we have never seen symptomatic infections,” says Prancer. Due to increased hygiene measures, most people get the Virus now mostly in adolescence. “And suddenly, they are significantly symptomatic.”

Risk of infection in the family, probably the largest

It is unclear yet, how contagious infected children. Analyses from China and the Netherlands show that there are rare children who carry the Virus to the families. However, the number of sample households was low. Also, the age structure of infected individuals plays a crucial role, which patients get as a so-called index patient in question. The Virus is spreading in a country, therefore, first of all, under-employed – for example, through open-plan offices – it is mostly they who carry the Virus in the home environment.

The viral load was in any case the only criterion that the risk of Infection was established, so Protzer. Also other factors are crucial, such as physical proximity and the duration of the contact. Within a family, among Siblings, and parents – is expected to make a very tight contact. There is a high risk of contagion”, so Protzer was therefore”.

A close contact can, in principle, also take place in day-care groups and on the playgrounds. How big is the risk that the Small-infect the joint Play and the parents to plug in is? According to Prancer, several factors are decisive for this – first of all, the age of the children. “The risk of Transmission is certainly the case of smaller children, because the measures of hygiene, can not comply with as well, higher than in older children.” It is important also, where the children were staying: In the fresh air, the contagion risk is generally lower than in closed rooms.

A prolonged closure of kindergartens and schools is not yet for absolutely useful. Rather, it is a matter of the right way to deal with the Virus, and a careful weighing of risks and Benefits. According to Prancer, a gradual easing could be useful to the effects of the individual measures to tell them apart. “But we need to be open and we will open.” It is important then to consider the potential for accompanying risks. “In the environment of parents who have a high risk, because they have pre-existing conditions? The grandparents live in the same household?” All of this, it is important to keep in view.

With a view to asymptomatic gradients, Philipp Henneke, specialist for pediatric and adolescent medicine recommends a thorough Hygiene in your own household. To sick family members should be kept to the possibility of distance. Small children were, however, a special case – in the case of illness, you need special protection and special proximity, Henneke.

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