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Infectious Diseases

05 May 2020

How one very ill infant survived Covid-19

An American infant who was in severe respiratory failure recovered after undergoing several forms of treatment.

A three-week-old Texas infant in critical condition with Covid-19 was successfully treated and recovered, doctors report.

This is one of the first cases of its kind, according to the team of doctors at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

They noted that the initial belief that children aren't at risk of serious illness from Covid-19 has been disproved as more information is gathered on the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

"We are still so early in the research and data available on Covid-19, and as providers, we need to be aware that children can get critically ill from this virus," said study first author Dr Alvaro Coronado Munoz, an assistant professor of paediatric critical care medicine at UTHealth.

X-rays reveal pneumonia

"It's important for parents to understand that they should not delay seeking care for their children if there's any presence of fever or trouble breathing," Coronado said in a university news release.

In the team's case report, the child arrived at a hospital with nasal congestion, rapid breathing and heart rate, reduced eating, a temperature of 97 ºF (36.1 ºC), and low oxygen saturation. The child was transferred to a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU), and arrived there with low blood pressure, hypothermia and continued rapid heart rate and breathing.

Lung X-rays revealed signs of pneumonia. Instead of waiting for nasal swab test results that could take weeks, doctors took immediate action.

Coronado said that after seeing the lung X-rays, "we were suspicious immediately that it could be the coronavirus. We took early precautions to protect our team and avoid the spread to health care providers."

Because the infant was in severe respiratory failure and Covid-19 was suspected, the patient was placed on a mechanical ventilator for five days and received five days of treatment with the drugs hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.

After five days, the infant was discharged from the PICU. On day nine, the infant had recovered and was sent home without supplemental oxygen, according to the case study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"While this case is limited to one single patient, it illustrates that severe Covid-19 cases in children can occur, but also be successfully managed," Coronado said.

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